Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss., 5, 4187-4232, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in GMD.
Improving the representation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in the MOZART-4 global chemical transport model
A. Mahmud and K. C. Barsanti
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751-CEE, Portland, OR 97207–0751, USA

Abstract. The secondary organic aerosol (SOA) module in the Model for Ozone and Related chemical Tracers, version 4 (MOZART-4) has been updated by replacing existing two-product (2p) parameters with those obtained from two-product volatility basis set (2p-VBS) fits, and by treating SOA formation from the following volatile organic compounds (VOCs): isoprene, propene and lumped alkenes. Strong seasonal and spatial variations in global SOA distributions were demonstrated, with significant differences in the predicted concentrations between the base-case and updated model versions. The base-case MOZART-4 predicted annual average SOA of 0.36 ± 0.50 μg m−3 in South America, 0.31 ± 0.38 μg m−3 in Indonesia, 0.09 ± 0.05 μg m−3 in the USA, and 0.12 ± 0.07 μg m−3 in Europe. Concentrations from the updated versions of the model showed a~marked increase in annual average SOA. Using the updated set of parameters alone (MZ4-v1) increased annual average SOA by ~8%, ~16%, ~56%, and ~108% from the base-case in South America, Indonesia, USA, and Europe, respectively. Treatment of additional parent VOCs (MZ4-v2) resulted in an even more dramatic increase of ~178–406% in annual average SOA for these regions over the base-case. The increases in predicted SOA concentrations further resulted in increases in corresponding SOA contributions to annual average total aerosol optical depth (AOD) by <1% for MZ4-v1 and ~1–6% for MZ4-v2. Estimated global SOA production was ~6.6 Tg yr−1 and ~19.1 Tg yr−1 with corresponding burdens of ~0.24 Tg and ~0.59 Tg using MZ4-v1 and MZ4-v2, respectively. The SOA budgets predicted in the current study fall well within reported ranges for similar modeling studies, 6.7 to 96 Tg yr−1, but are lower than recently reported observationally-constrained values, 50 to 380 Tg yr−1. With MZ4-v2, simulated SOA concentrations at the surface were also in reasonable agreement with comparable modeling studies and observations. Concentrations of estimated organic aerosol (OA) at the surface, however, showed under-prediction in Europe and over-prediction in the Amazonian regions and Malaysian Borneo during certain months of the year. Overall, the updated version of MOZART-4, MZ4-v2, showed consistently better skill in predicting SOA and OA levels and spatial distributions as compared with unmodified MOZART-4. The MZ4-v2 updates may be particularly important when MOZART-4 output is used to generate boundary conditions for regional air quality simulations that require more accurate representation of SOA concentrations and distributions.

Citation: Mahmud, A. and Barsanti, K. C.: Improving the representation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in the MOZART-4 global chemical transport model, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss., 5, 4187-4232, doi:10.5194/gmdd-5-4187-2012, 2012.
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