Formic acid (HCOOH) is among the most abundant carboxylic acids in the atmosphere, but its budget is poorly understood. We present eddy flux, vertical gradient, and soil chamber measurements from a mixed forest and apply the data to better constrain HCOOH source/sink pathways. While the cumulative above-canopy flux was downward, HCOOH exchange was bidirectional, with extended periods of net upward and downward flux. Net above-canopy fluxes were mostly upward during warmer/drier periods. The implied gross canopy HCOOH source corresponds to 3% and 38% of observed isoprene and monoterpene carbon emissions and is 15× underestimated in a state-of-science atmospheric model (GEOS-Chem). Gradient and soil chamber measurements identify the canopy layer as the controlling source of HCOOH or its precursors to the forest environment; below-canopy sources were minor. A correlation analysis using an ensemble of marker volatile organic compounds suggests that secondary formation, not direct emission, is the major source driving ambient HCOOH.
- Eddy co-variance fluxes
- Formic acid