Ambient biogenic hydrocarbons and isoprene emissions from a mixed deciduous forest

Jose Fuentes, D. Wang, H. H. Neumann, T. J. Gillespie, G. Den Hartog, T. F. Dann

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81 Scopus citations


Experiments were conducted during the growing season of 1993 at a mixed deciduous forest in southern Ontario, Canada to investigate the atmospheric abundance of hydrocarbons from phytogenic origins, and to measure emission rates from foliage of deciduous trees. The most abundant phytogenic chemical species found in the ambient air were isoprene and the monoterpenes α-pinene and β-pinene. Prior to leaf-bud break during spring, ambient hydrocarbon mixing ratios above the forest remained barely above instrument detection limit (~20 parts per trillion), but they became abundant during the latter part of the growing season. Peak isoprene mixing ratios reached nearly 10 parts per billion (ppbv) during mid-growing season while maximum monoterpene mixing ratios were close to 2 ppbv. Both isoprene and monoterpene mixing ratios exhibited marked diurnal variations. Typical isoprene mixing ratios were highest during mid-afternoon and were lowest during nighttime. Peak isoprene mixing ratios coincided with maximum canopy temperature. The diurnal pattern of ambient isoprene mixing ratio was closely linked to the local emissions from foliage. Isoprene emission rates from foliage were measured by enclosing branches of trees inside environment-controlled cuvette systems and measuring the gas mixing ratio difference between cuvette inlet and outlet airstream. Isoprene emissions depended on tree species, foliage ontogeny, and environmental factors such as foliage temperature and intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). For instance, young (< 1 month old) aspen leaves released approximately 80 times less isoprene than mature (> 3 months old) leaves. During the latter part of the growing season the amount of carbon released back to the atmosphere as isoprene by big-tooth and trembling aspen leaves accounted for approximately 2% of the photosynthetically fixed carbon. Significant isoprene mixing ratio gradients existed between the forest crown and at twice canopy height above the ground. The gradient diffusion approach coupled with similarity theory was used to estimate canopy isoprene flux densities. These canopy fluxes compared favorably with values obtained from a multilayered canopy model that utilized locally measured plant microclimate, biomass distribution and leaf isoprene emission rate data. Modeled isoprene fluxes were approximately 30% higher compared to measured fluxes. Further comparisons between measured and modeled canopy biogenic hydrocarbon flux densities are required to assess uncertainties in modeling systems that provide inventories of biogenic hydrocarbons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-95
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Atmospheric Science


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