Marine and terrestrial sources of reactive volatile organic compounds and their impact on the tropospheric ozone chemistry of the earth

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry

First Committee Member

Rod G. Zika, Committee Chair


Two areas integral to the global cycle of tropospheric ozone were studied. The first segment of this investigation involved the study of marine ecosystems to define the sources of nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) in the surface ocean. This included laboratory and field investigations conducted to determine the function and importance of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the abiotic photochemical production of nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) in surface seawater. Concurrently, phytoplankton were investigated as a biogenic source of NMHCs in the surface ocean. Low molecular weight alkenes, compounds observed in the greatest quantities in the surface ocean, are formed almost exclusively as a result of DOM-mediated photochemistry. Isoprene was found to be produced by all phytoplankton species investigated. The primary sink for NMHCs found in surface seawater was gas exchange. The second segment of this study focused on the prevalence of NMHCs and oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOCs) in the rural southeastern United States. To characterize the importance of NMHCs and OVOCs to the process of atmospheric reactivity and tropospheric ozone chemistry, mixing ratios for a number of NMHCs and OVOCs were determined. Isoprene and its primary oxidation products, methacrolein and methyl vinyl ketone, were observed to be the dominant hydroxyl radical (OH) sink in the rural atmosphere. Certain OVOCs, namely methanol, acetone and acetaldehyde---although not as important on a reactivity basis---were the most prevalent in terms of mass. Methanol was the dominant OVOC measured in the rural atmosphere and serves as an important source of formaldehyde in the rural atmosphere. On the basis of the mixing ratio patterns exhibited by many of the OVOCs present in the rural atmosphere, considerable biogenic sources are likely.


Chemistry, Analytical; Physics, Atmospheric Science; Environmental Sciences

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