Intramolecular 15N and 18O fractionation in the reaction of N2O with O(1D) and its implications for the stratospheric N2O isotope signature

Jan Kaiser, Carl A. M. Brenninkmeijer, Thomas Röckmann

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Atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O) is enriched in heavy oxygen and nitrogen isotopes relative to its tropospheric sources. This enrichment is traced back to kinetic isotope effects in the two stratospheric N2O sink mechanisms, i.e., photolysis and reaction with O(1D). Most of the previous studies on the cause of isotopic enrichment in N2O have focused on photolysis. Here we present results on the 18O and the position-resolved 15N kinetic isotope effects in the reaction of nitrous oxide with O(1D) obtained by recently developed mass spectrometric techniques. Just as in the photolysis sink, a heavy isotope enrichment in the residual N2O was found, but of smaller magnitude. However, the fractionation pattern of nitrogen isotopes at the two nonequivalent positions in the molecule is clearly distinct from that in photolytic N2O destruction. The fractionation constant for the terminal nitrogen atom, 15e1 = k(14N2O)/k(15N14NO) - 1 = (8.87 ± 0.15) ‰, is larger than for the central nitrogen atom, 15e2 = k(14N2O)/k(14N15NO) - 1 = (2.22 ± 0.12) ‰ (all errors are 2s). The fractionation constant for oxygen, 18e = k(N216O)/k(N218O) - 1 = (12.38 ± 0.14) ‰, was found to be larger than for nitrogen and amounts to about twice the value from the single previous determination. The larger influence of the O(1D) sink at lower stratospheric altitudes could probably explain the lower ratio of 15e2/15e1 (=?) observed there, which is shown to be only marginally influenced by transport. The published data on stratospheric ? values suggest that, if there are no other chemical reactions involved, up to 60% of the overall N2O loss at lower altitudes could be from the reaction with O(1D).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)ACH 16-1-ACH 16-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberD14
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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