Global transformation and fate of SOA: Implications of low-volatility SOA and...

Shrivastava, M., R. Easter, X. Liu, A. Zelenyuk, B. Singh, K. Zhang, P. Ma, D. Chand, S. Ghan, J. Jimenez-Palacios, Q. Zhang, J. Fast, P. J. Rasch, and P. Tiitta (2015), Global transformation and fate of SOA: Implications of low-volatility SOA and gas-phase fragmentation reactions, J. Geophys. Res., 120, 4169-4195, doi:10.1002/2014JD022563.

Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) are large contributors to fine-particle loadings and radiative forcing but are often represented crudely in global models. We have implemented three new detailed SOA treatments within the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) that allow us to compare the semivolatile versus nonvolatile SOA treatments (based on some of the latest experimental findings) and to investigate the effects of gas-phase fragmentation reactions. The new treatments also track SOA from biomass burning and biofuel, fossil fuel, and biogenic sources. For semivolatile SOA treatments, fragmentation reactions decrease the simulated annual global SOA burden from 7.5 Tg to 1.8 Tg. For the nonvolatile SOA treatment with fragmentation, the burden is 3.1 Tg. Larger differences between nonvolatile and semivolatile SOA (up to a factor of 5) exist in areas of continental outflow over the oceans. According to comparisons with observations from global surface Aerosol Mass Spectrometer measurements and the U.S. Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network measurements, the FragNVSOA treatment, which treats SOA as nonvolatile and includes gas-phase fragmentation reactions, agrees best at rural locations. Urban SOA is underpredicted, but this may be due to the coarse model resolution. All three revised treatments show much better agreement with aircraft measurements of organic aerosols (OA) over the North American Arctic and sub-Arctic in spring and summer, compared to the standard CAM5 formulation. This is mainly due to the oxidation of SOA precursor gases from biomass burning, not included in standard CAM5, and long-range transport of biomass burning OA at high altitudes. The revised model configurations that include fragmentation (both semivolatile and nonvolatile SOA) show much better agreement with MODerate resolution Imaging Spectrometers (MODIS) aerosol optical depth data over regions dominated by biomass burning during the summer compared to standard CAM5, and predict biomass burning and biofuel as the largest global source of OA, followed by biogenic and fossil fuel sources. The large contribution of biomass burning OA in the revised treatments is supported by these measurements, but the emissions and aging of SOA precursors and POA are uncertain, and need further investigation. The nonvolatile and semivolatile configurations with fragmentation predict the direct radiative forcing of SOA as -0.5 W m-2 and -0.26 W m-2 respectively, at top of the atmosphere, which are higher than previously estimated by most models, but in reasonable agreement with a recent constrained modeling study. This study highlights the importance of improving process-level representation of SOA in global models.

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Tropospheric Chemistry Program (TCP)