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Title: Rates of Wintertime Atmospheric SO 2 Oxidation based on Aircraft Observations during Clear‐Sky Conditions over the Eastern United States

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is emitted in large quantities from coal‐burning power plants and leads to various harmful health and environmental effects. In this study, we use plume intercepts from the Wintertime INvestigation of Transport, Emission and Reactivity (WINTER) campaign to estimate the oxidation rates of SO2under wintertime conditions and the factors that determine SO2removal. Observations suggest that OH governs the rate SO2oxidation in the eastern United States during winter. The range of mean oxidation rates during the day from power plants were 0.22–0.71%/hr, producing SO2lifetimes of 13–43 days, if SO2consumption is assumed to occur during 10.5 hr of daylight in cloudless conditions. Though most nighttime rate measurements were zero within uncertainty, there is some evidence of nighttime removal, which suggests alternate oxidation mechanisms. The fastest nighttime observed SO2oxidation rate was 0.25±0.07%/hr, producing a combined day/night SO2lifetime of 8.5–21 days. The upper limit of the oxidation rate (the mean+1σof the fastest day and night observations) is 16.5%/day, corresponding to a lifetime of 6.1 days. The analysis also quantifies the primary emission of sulfate from power plants. The median mole percentage of SO4‐2from observed plumes was 1.7% and the mean percentage sulfate was 2.8% for intercepts within 1 hr of transit to power plants. The largest value observed from close intercepts was over 7% sulfate, and the largest extrapolated value was 18%, based on intercepts further from their source and fastest observed oxidation rate.

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Award ID(s):
1822664 1360834
Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 6630-6649
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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