Text by Lauri Laanisto
Last year, Peter C. Harley was on sabbatical in our work group, from National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, USA. He is an emergent figure in atmospheric chemistry (though he started out as a historian), which is one of the main research topics in our lab. In addition to research, he also organized almost weekly seminars, which were quite inspiring, and did a lot of work teaching how to write better manuscripts.
Here is one paper from 2015 which he coauthored while working in our lab.
Citation: P.K. Misztal, C.N. Hewitt, J. Wildt, J.D. Blande, A.S.D. Eller, S. Fares, D.R. Gentner, J.B. Gilman, M. Graus, J. Greenberg, A.B. Guenther, A. Hansel, P. Harley, M. Huang, K. Jardine, T. Karl, L. Kaser, F.N. Keutsch, A. Kiendler-Scharr, E. Kleist, B.M. Lerner, T. Li, J. Mak, A.C. Nölscher, R. Schnitzhofer, V. Sinha, B. Thornton, C. Warneke, F. Wegener, C. Werner, J. Williams, D.R. Worton, N. Yassaa & A.H. Goldstein (2015) Atmospheric benzenoid emissions from plants rival those from fossil fuels. Scientific reports, 5: 12064. (link to full text)
Despite the known biochemical production of a range of aromatic compounds by plants and the presence of benzenoids in floral scents, the emissions of only a few benzenoid compounds have been reported from the biosphere to the atmosphere. Here, using evidence from measurements at aircraft, ecosystem, tree, branch and leaf scales, with complementary isotopic labeling experiments, we show that vegetation (leaves, flowers, and phytoplankton) emits a wide variety of benzenoid compounds to the atmosphere at substantial rates. Controlled environment experiments show that plants are able to alter their metabolism to produce and release many benzenoids under stress conditions. The functions of these compounds remain unclear but may be related to chemical communication and protection against stress. We estimate the total global secondary organic aerosol potential from biogenic benzenoids to be similar to that from anthropogenic benzenoids (~10 Tg y−1), pointing to the importance of these natural emissions in atmospheric physics and chemistry.
Misztal PK, Hewitt CN, Wildt J, Blande JD, Eller AS, Fares S, Gentner DR, Gilman JB, Graus M, Greenberg J, Guenther AB, Hansel A, Harley P, Huang M, Jardine K, Karl T, Kaser L, Keutsch FN, Kiendler-Scharr A, Kleist E, Lerner BM, Li T, Mak J, Nölscher AC, Schnitzhofer R, Sinha V, Thornton B, Warneke C, Wegener F, Werner C, Williams J, Worton DR, Yassaa N, & Goldstein AH (2015). Atmospheric benzenoid emissions from plants rival those from fossil fuels. Scientific reports, 5 PMID: 26165168