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The role of chlorine in global tropospheric chemistry

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  • Xuan Wang
  • Daniel J. Jacob
  • Sebastian D. Eastham
  • Melissa P. Sulprizio
  • Lei Zhu
  • Qianjie Chen
  • Becky Alexander
  • Tomas Sherwen
  • Mathew J. Evans
  • Ben H. Lee
  • Jessica D. Haskins
  • Felipe D. Lopez-Hilfiker
  • Joel A. Thornton
  • Gregory L. Huey
  • Hong Liao


Publication details

JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
DateAccepted/In press - 6 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - 29 Mar 2019
Issue number6
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)3981-4003
Original languageEnglish


We present a comprehensive simulation of tropospheric chlorine within the GEOS-Chem global 3-D model of oxidant-aerosol-halogen atmospheric chemistry. The simulation includes explicit accounting of chloride mobilization from sea salt aerosol by acid displacement of HCl and by other heterogeneous processes. Additional small sources of tropospheric chlorine (combustion, organochlorines, transport from stratosphere) are also included. Reactive gasphase chlorine Cl, including Cl, ClO, Cl2, BrCl, ICl, HOCl, ClNO3, ClNO2, and minor species, is produced by the HClC OH reaction and by heterogeneous conversion of sea salt aerosol chloride to BrCl, ClNO2, Cl2, and ICl. The model successfully simulates the observed mixing ratios of HCl in marine air (highest at northern midlatitudes) and the associated HNO3 decrease from acid displacement. It captures the high ClNO2 mixing ratios observed in continental surface air at night and attributes the chlorine to HCl volatilized from sea salt aerosol and transported inland following uptake by fine aerosol. The model successfully simulates the vertical profiles of HCl measured from aircraft, where enhancements in the continental boundary layer can again be largely explained by transport inland of the marine source. It does not reproduce the boundary layer Cl2 mixing ratios measured in the WINTER aircraft campaign (1-5 ppt in the daytime, low at night); the model is too high at night, which could be due to uncertainty in the rate of the ClNO2 CCl reaction, but we have no explanation for the high observed Cl2 in daytime. The global mean tropospheric concentration of Cl atoms in the model is 620 cm3 and contributes 1.0% of the global oxidation of methane, 20% of ethane, 14% of propane, and 4% of methanol. Chlorine chemistry increases global mean tropospheric BrO by 85 %, mainly through the HOBrCCl reaction, and decreases global burdens of tropospheric ozone by 7% and OH by 3% through the associated bromine radical chemistry. ClNO2 chemistry drives increases in ozone of up to 8 ppb over polluted continents in winter.

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) 2019.

    Research areas

  • chlorine, halogens, ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY



  • Viking

    Facility/Equipment: Equipment

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