Articles | Volume 10, issue 22
Research article
30 Nov 2010
Research article |  | 30 Nov 2010

Global modeling of organic aerosol: the importance of reactive nitrogen (NOx and NO3)

H. O. T. Pye, A. W. H. Chan, M. P. Barkley, and J. H. Seinfeld

Abstract. Reactive nitrogen compounds, specifically NOx and NO3, likely influence global organic aerosol levels. To assess these interactions, GEOS-Chem, a chemical transport model, is updated to include improved biogenic emissions (following MEGAN v2.1/2.04), a new organic aerosol tracer lumping scheme, aerosol from nitrate radical (NO3) oxidation of isoprene, and NOx-dependent monoterpene and sesquiterpene aerosol yields. As a result of significant nighttime terpene emissions, fast reaction of monoterpenes with the nitrate radical, and relatively high aerosol yields from NO3 oxidation, biogenic hydrocarbon-NO3 reactions are expected to be a major contributor to surface level aerosol concentrations in anthropogenically influenced areas such as the United States. By including aerosol from nitrate radical oxidation in GEOS-Chem, terpene (monoterpene + sesquiterpene) aerosol approximately doubles and isoprene aerosol is enhanced by 30 to 40% in the Southeast United States. In terms of the global budget of organic aerosol, however, aerosol from nitrate radical oxidation is somewhat minor (slightly more than 3 Tg/yr) due to the relatively high volatility of organic-NO3 oxidation products in the yield parameterization. Globally, 69 to 88 Tg/yr of organic aerosol is predicted to be produced annually, of which 14–15 Tg/yr is from oxidation of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes and 8–9 Tg/yr from isoprene.

Final-revised paper