The seasonal cycles and photochemistry of C2–C5 alkanes at Mace Head

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Atmospheric Environment, Volume 44, Issue 23, p.2705 - 2713 (2010)





Alkanes, Mace Head Ireland, NMHCs, Photochemical oxidation, Seasonal variation


Continuous in-situ measurements of NMHCs at Mace Head, Ireland during two full annual cycles from January 2005 to January 2007 were used to investigate NMHC emission sources and transport including dilution and photochemical oxidation. The Mace Head research station is ideally located to sample a wide range of air masses including polluted European transport, clean North Atlantic and Arctic air masses and the ultra-clean, Southern Atlantic air masses. The variety in air mass sampling is used to investigate interaction of emissions, transport, dilution and photochemistry. Variability of long-lived hydrocarbon ratios is used to assess and estimate typical transport times from emission source to the Mace Head receptor. Seasonality in the ratios of isomeric alkane pairs (for butane and pentanes) are used to assess the effects of atmospheric transport and photochemical ageing. Finally, the natural logarithms of NMHC ratios are used to assess photochemical oxidation.