In the latest edition of Nature (March 13th, 2003) a group of scientist led by professor Pertti Hari from the University of Helsinki presents a novel observation: ultraviolet radiation induced a flux of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from pine needles to the atmosphere. This result is interesting because nitrogen oxides participate in several essential chemical reactions in the atmosphere. On the other hand, plants can utilize the nitrogen of NOx as their nutrient.
It has been difficult to detect the UV-induced NOx emission in earlier studies, because the measuring chambers usually are constructed with UV-opaque materials. However, the cover of the scientists measuring chamber now is made of UV-transparent quartz glass, which enables UV radiation to reach the pine needles. This technical detail might explain why this phenomenon has not been observed earlier.
The origin of the NOx flux is not known yet. It might come from plant metabolism, or UV radiation might release the NOx from needle surfaces.
Minna Meriläinen | alfa
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