A new compound has been discovered that plays an important role in atmosphere; Research

Molecule of SO2

Scientists have found a new compound in the Earth’s atmosphere that reacts with the sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid.

This research has been done by researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki, and published online in the August 8th issue of the journal Nature.

The newly found compound is an oxidant. It is the type of carbonyl oxide and is formed as a result of the reaction of the ozone with the alkenes.

This study has been found helpful in solving the unclear chemical pathway, i.e. without sunlight, for the production of sulfuric acid that is responsible for increase in acid rain and cloud formation, and bad impacts on the respiratory system of humans.

“We have discovered a new and important, atmospherically relevant oxidant,” said Roy “Lee” Mauldin III, a research associate in CU-Boulder’s atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and lead study author. “Sulfuric acid plays an essential role in Earth’s atmosphere, from the ecological impacts of acid precipitation to the formation of new aerosol particles, which have significant climatic and health effects. Our findings demonstrate a newly observed connection between the biosphere and atmospheric chemistry.”

Researchers have done much of their in the forests of the Finland where the sunlight was not present to increase the reaction for sulfuric acid formation.

You can read the abstract of the paper here,

Atmospheric oxidation is a key phenomenon that connects atmospheric chemistry with globally challenging environmental issues, such as climate change, stratospheric ozone loss, acidification of soils and water, and health effects of air quality. Ozone, the hydroxyl radical and the nitrate radical are generally considered to be the dominant oxidants that initiate the removal of trace gases, including pollutants, from the atmosphere. Here we present atmospheric observations from a boreal forest region in Finland, supported by laboratory experiments and theoretical considerations, that allow us to identify another compound, probably a stabilized Criegee intermediate (a carbonyl oxide with two free-radical sites) or its derivative, which has a significant capacity to oxidize sulphur dioxide and potentially other trace gases. This compound probably enhances the reactivity of the atmosphere, particularly with regard to the production of sulphuric acid, and consequently atmospheric aerosol formation. Our findings suggest that this new atmospherically relevant oxidation route is important relative to oxidation by the hydroxyl radical, at least at moderate concentrations of that radical. We also find that the oxidation chemistry of this compound seems to be tightly linked to the presence of alkenes of biogenic origin.

Via: University of Colorado Boulder


R. L. Mauldin III, T. Berndt, M. Sipilä, P. Paasonen, T. Petäjä, S. Kim, T. Kurtén, F. Stratmann, V.M. Kerminen & M. Kulmala, (2012). A new atmospherically relevant oxidant of sulphur dioxide. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature11278


SayPeople.com gives you the news and information about Science, Research, Technology, Business and Islam.