Leaf uptake of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in a tropical wet forest: Implications for tropospheric chemistry

Jed P. Sparks, Russell K. Monson, Kimberlee L. Sparks, Manuel Lerdau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Tropical forest soils are known to emit large amounts of reactive nitrogen oxide compounds, often referred to collectively as NOy (NOy = NO + NO2 + HNO3 + organic nitrates). Plants are known to assimilate and emit Ney and it is therefore likely that plant canopies affect the atmospheric concentration of reactive nitrogen compounds by assimilating or emitting some fraction of the soil-emitted NOy. It is crucial to understand the magnitude of the canopy effects and the primary environ mental and physiological controls over Ney exchange in order to accurately quantify regional Ney inventories and parameterize models of tropospheric photochemistry. In this study we focused on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is the component of NOy that most directly catalyzes the chemistry of O3 dynamics, one of the most abundant oxidative species in the troposphere, and which has been reported as the NOy species that is most readily exchanged between plants and the atmosphere. Leaf chamber measurements of NO2 flux were measured in 25 tree species growing in a wet tropical forest in the Republic of Panama. NO2 was emitted to the atmosphere at ambient NO2 concentrations below 0.53-1.60 ppbv (the NO2 compensation point) depending on species, with the highest rate of emission being 50 pmol m-2 s-1 at <0.1 ppbv. NO2 was assimilated by leaves at ambient NO2 concentrations above the compensation point, with the maximum observed uptake rate being 1,550 pmol m-2 s-1 at 5 ppbv. No seasonal variation in leaf NO2 flux was observed in this study and leaf emission and uptake appeared to be primarily controlled by leaf nitrogen and stomatal conductance, respectively. When scaled to the entire canopy, soil NO emission rates to the atmosphere were estimated to be maximally altered ±19% by the overlying canopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-221
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Leaf NO uptake
  • Reactive nitrogen oxides
  • Tropical forests
  • Tropospheric photochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Leaf uptake of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in a tropical wet forest: Implications for tropospheric chemistry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this