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Nitryl chloride chemistry and its role in the formation of air pollution (CENTA2-CHEM2-MON2)

Project Description

Air pollution has been a major environmental concern for many decades, but some of the chemical processes that form pollutants in the atmosphere remain unclear. Nighttime chemistry, in particular, is less well understood than daytime chemistry, although it can have significant impacts on the level of key pollutants, such as ozone (O3) and nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2) [1]. A potentially important chemistry involves the nocturnal formation, followed by photolysis at sunrise of nitryl chloride (ClNO2), which releases chlorine atoms (Cl) from aerosol, such as sea-salt, into the gas-phase (Fig. 1). Since Cl is very reactive towards methane, a key climate forcer, as well as several volatile organic compounds, this process can be very important for both climate change and air quality, especially in highly populated coastal regions and megacities.

Measurements of ClNO2 in North America, Europe and Asia made in recent years have shown that this molecule is present in the atmosphere at a much larger extent than previously thought, even in regions that are not close to the coast where sea-salt can serve as a source for chloride. Field campaigns and modelling studies have indicated that this chemistry has large impact on ozone formation, especially during the morning hours. However, there are still significant uncertainties in our understanding of ClNO2 chemistry, and its implications for air pollution and climate.

Further Reading:

[1] Ball, S. M. (2014), “Atmospheric chemistry at night”, (Accessed 29 Oct 2018).

[2] Thornton, J. A. et al (2010), “A large atomic chlorine source inferred from mid-continental reactive nitrogen chemistry”, Nature, 464, p271, doi: 10.1038/nature08905.

[3] Sommariva, R. et al (2018), “Seasonal and geographical variability of nitryl chloride and its precursors in Northern Europe”, Atmospheric Science Letters, 19(8), e844, doi: 10.1002/asl.844.

[4] MISTRA model,

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Chemistry Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.

Related Subjects

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