—Finding Hydroxyl “Radioactive carbon monoxide is used to trace key atmospheric "cleanser"” ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY Expanding its role beyond dating ancient objects, carbon-14 is proving be a powerful tracer of the hydroxyl radical, a difficult-to-measure but all-important atmospheric cleanser that oxidizes greenhouse gases such as methane and pollutants such as carbon monoxide. Until now, scientists have inferred atmospheric levels of the radical, which has a lifetime of one second, largely by measuring concentrations of methyl chloroform, a man-made molecule that reacts almost exclusively with OH. Nobel Laureate F. Sherwood Rowland, chemistry professor at the University of California, Irvine, introduced the method in the early 1980s.
by Elizabeth K. Wilson |
August 22, 2005