Marine latitude/altitude OH distributions: Comparison of Pacific Ocean observations with models


  • D. Davis,

  • G. Grodzinsky,

  • G. Chen,

  • J. Crawford,

  • F. Eisele,

  • L. Mauldin,

  • D. Tanner,

  • C. Cantrell,

  • W. Brune,

  • D. Tan,

  • I. Faloona,

  • B. Ridley,

  • D. Montzka,

  • J. Walega,

  • F. Grahek,

  • S. Sandholm,

  • G. Sachse,

  • S. Vay,

  • B. Anderson,

  • M. Avery,

  • B. Heikes,

  • J. Snow,

  • D. O'Sullivan,

  • R. Shetter,

  • B. Lefer,

  • D. Blake,

  • N. Blake,

  • M. Carroll,

  • Y. Wang


Reported here are tropical/subtropical Pacific basin OH observational data presented in a latitude/altitude geographical grid. They cover two seasons of the year (spring and fall) that reflect the timing of NASA's PEM-Tropics A (1996) and B (1999) field programs. Two different OH sensors were used to collect these data, and each instrument was mounted on a different aircraft platform (i.e., NASA's P-3B and DC-8). Collectively, these chemical snapshots of the central Pacific have revealed several interesting trends. Only modest decreases (factors of 2 to 3) were found in the levels of OH with increasing altitude (0–12 km). Similarly, only modest variations were found (factors of 1.5 to 3.5) when the data were examined as a function of latitude (30°N to 30°S). Using simultaneously recorded data for CO, O3, H2O, NO, and NMHCs, comparisons with current models were also carried out. For three out of four data subsets, the results revealed a high level of correspondence. On average, the box model results agreed with the observations within a factor of 1.5. The comparison with the three-dimensional model results was found to be only slightly worse. Overall, these results suggest that current model mechanisms capture the major photochemical processes controlling OH quite well and thus provide a reasonably good representation of OH levels for tropical marine environments. They also indicate that the two OH sensors employed during the PEM-Tropics B study generally saw similar OH levels when sampling a similar tropical marine environment. However, a modest altitude bias appears to exist between these instruments. More rigorous instrument intercomparison activity would therefore seem to be justified. Further comparisons of model predictions with observations are also recommended for nontropical marine environments as well as those involving highly elevated levels of reactive non-methane hydrocarbons.