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Journal Articles Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Year : 2021

Observation and modelling of ozone-destructive halogen chemistry in a passively degassing volcanic plume


Volcanoes emit halogens into the atmosphere that undergo chemical cycling in plumes and cause destruction of ozone. The impacts of volcanic halogens are inherently difficult to measure at volcanoes, and the complexity of the chemistry, coupled with the mixing and dispersion of the plume, makes the system challenging to model numerically. We present aircraft observations of the Mount Etna plume in the summer of 2012, when the volcano was passively degassing. Measurements of SO 2-an indicator of plume intensity-and ozone were made in the plume a few 10s of km from the source, revealing a strong negative correlation between ozone and SO 2 levels. From these observations we estimate a mean in-plume ozone loss rate of 1.3 × 10 −5 molecules of O 3 per second per molecule of SO2. This value is similar to observation-derived estimates reported very close to the Mount Etna vents, indicating continual ozone loss in the plume up to at least 10's km downwind. The chemically reactive plume is simulated using a new numerical 3D model "WRF-Chem Volcano" (WCV), a version of WRF-Chem we have modified to incorporate volcanic emissions (including HBr and HCl) and multi-phase halogen chemistry. We used nested grids to model the plume close to the volcano at 1 km. The focus is on the early evolution of passively degassing plumes aged less than one hour and up to 10's km downwind. The model reproduces the so-called 'bromine explosion': the daytime bromine activation process by which HBr in the plume is converted to other more reactive forms that continuously cycle in the plume. These forms include the radical BrO, a species whose ratio with SO 2 is commonly measured in volcanic plumes as an indicator of halogen ozone-destroying chemistry. We track the modelled partitioning of bromine between its forms. The model yields in-plume BrO/SO 2 ratios (around 10 −4 mol/mol) similar to those observed previously in Etna plumes. The modelled BrO/SO 2 is lower in plumes which are more dilute (e.g. at greater windspeed). It is also slightly lower in plumes in the middle of the day compared than in the morning and evening, due to BrO's reaction with diurnally varying HO 2. Sensitivity simulations confirm the importance of near-vent products from high temperature chemistry, notably bromine radicals, in initiating the ambient temperature plume halogen cycling. Note also that heterogeneous reactions that activate bromine also activate a small fraction of the emitted chlorine; the resulting production of chlorine radical Cl causes a strong reduction in the methane lifetime and increasing formation of HCHO in the plume.
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insu-03175871 , version 1 (21-03-2021)
insu-03175871 , version 2 (20-08-2021)


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Luke Surl, Tjarda J Roberts, Slimane Bekki. Observation and modelling of ozone-destructive halogen chemistry in a passively degassing volcanic plume. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2021, 21 (16), pp.12413-12441. ⟨10.5194/acp-21-12413-2021⟩. ⟨insu-03175871v2⟩
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