1Molina Center for Energy and the Environment (MCE2), La Jolla, CA, USA
2Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
3Centro Nacional de Investigación y Capacitación Ambiental del Inst. Nacional de Ecología (CENICA-INE), D.F., Mexico
4Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tokyo, Japan
5Atmospheric Environmental Science Laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture, Ehime University, Ehime, Japan
Abstract. The evolution of ozone (O3) and 13 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the boundary layer of Mexico City was investigated during 2000–2004 to improve our understanding of the complex interactions between those trace gases and meteorological variables, and their influence on the air quality of a polluted megacity. A tethered balloon, fitted with electrochemical and meteorological sondes, was used to obtain detailed vertical profiles of O3 and meteorological parameters up to 1000 m above ground during part of the diurnal cycle (02:00–18:00 h). VOCs samples were collected up to 200 m by pumping air to canisters with a Teflon tube attached to the tether line. Overall, features of these profiles were found to be consistent with the formation of an upper residual layer during nighttime carrying over a fraction of the O3 from the previous day that contributes to the background concentration in surrounding regions. At the same time the release of heat stored in the urban surface forms a shallow unstable layer close to the ground, where the nocturnal emissions are trapped. After sunrise an O3 balance is determined by photochemical production, entrainment from the upper residual layer and destruction by titration with nitric oxide, delaying the ground-level O3 rise by 2 h. The subsequent evolution of the conductive boundary layer and vertical distribution of pollutants are discussed in terms of the energy balance, the presence of turbulence and the atmospheric stability.