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Exploring the Atmosphere of Neoproterozoic Earth: The Effect of O2 on Haze Formation and Composition

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Monday, April 9, 2018

Sarah M. Hörst, Chao He, Melissa S. Ugelow, A. Mark Jellinek, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, Margaret A. Tolbert
(Submitted on 8 Apr 2018)

Previous studies of haze formation in the atmosphere of the Early Earth have focused on N2/CO2/CH4 atmospheres. Here, we experimentally investigate the effect of O2 on the formation and composition of aerosols to improve our understanding of haze formation on the Neoproterozoic Earth. We obtained in situ size, particle density, and composition measurements of aerosol particles produced from N2/CO2/CH4/O2 gas mixtures subjected to FUV radiation (115-400 nm) for a range of initial CO2/CH4/O2 mixing ratios (O2 ranging from 2 ppm to 0.2%). At the lowest O2 concentration (2 ppm), the addition increased particle production for all but one gas mixture. At higher oxygen concentrations (20 ppm and greater) particles are still produced, but the addition of O2 decreases the production rate. Both the particle size and number density decrease with increasing O2, indicating that O2 affects particle nucleation and growth. The particle density increases with increasing O2. The addition of CO2 and O2 not only increases the amount of oxygen in the aerosol, but it also increases the degree of nitrogen incorporation. In particular, the addition of O2 results in the formation of nitrate bearing molecules. The fact that the presence of oxygen bearing molecules increases the efficiency of nitrogen fixation has implications for the role of haze as a source of molecules required for the origin and evolution of life. The composition changes also likely affect the absorption and scattering behavior of these particles but optical properties measurements are required to fully understand the implications for the effect on the planetary radiative energy balance and climate.

Comments:    15 pages, 3 tables, 8 figures, accepted in Astrophysical Journal
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1804.02775 [astro-ph.EP]
     (or arXiv:1804.02775v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sarah Hörst  
[v1] Sun, 8 Apr 2018 23:39:36 GMT (3829kb,D)
https://arxiv.org/abs/1804.02775

Astrobiology

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