1Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, P.O. Box 2208, 71003 Voutes, Heraklion, Greece
2Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Abt. Luftchemie, Mainz, Germany
*now at: Institute of Environmental Physics and Remote Sensing IUP/IFE, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
**now at: Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
Abstract. This is the first study that investigates the seasonal variability of nitrate (NO3) radicals in the marine boundary layer over the East Mediterranean Sea. An extensive data set of NO3 radical observations on the north coast of Crete for more than two years (June 2001–September 2003) is presented here. NO3 radicals follow a distinct seasonal dependency with the highest seasonally average mixing ratios in summer (5.6±1.2 pptv) and the lowest in winter (1.2±1.2 pptv). Episodes with high NO3 mixing ratios have been encountered mainly in polluted air masses originating from mainland Greece, Central and East Europe, and Turkey. Ancillary measurements of ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and meteorological parameters have been conducted and used to reveal possible relationship with the observed NO3 variability. The acquired NO2 nighttime observations provide the up-to-date most complete overview of NO2 temporal variability in the area. The data show correlations of the NO3 nighttime mixing ratios with temperature (positive), relative humidity (negative) and to a lesser extend with O3 (positive). As inferred from these observations, on average the major sink of NO3 radicals in the area is the heterogeneous reaction of dinitrogen pentoxide (N2O5) on aqueous particles whereas the homogeneous gas phase reactions of NO3 are most important during spring and summer. These observations support a significant contribution of NO3 nighttime chemistry to the oxidizing capacity of the troposphere.