Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
26 Apr 2010
 | 26 Apr 2010

Impact of dust on tropospheric chemistry over polluted regions: a case study of the Beijing megacity

S. Zhu, T. Butler, R. Sander, J. Ma, and M. G. Lawrence

Abstract. The box model MECCA (Module Efficiently Calculating the Chemistry of the Atmosphere) is extended by incorporating detailed heterogeneous chemistry occurring on mineral aerosol surfaces. The model is used to investigate the impact of dust on tropospheric photochemistry, when the dust is transported to a polluted region, focusing on the example of Beijing. The impacts of dust via heterogeneous removal of gases are analyzed for different hypothetical transport rates, which are described by four different exchange rate coefficients Kt in the model. Along with the dust, airmasses with trace gas levels characteristic for regions upwind of Beijing are transported with the same rate (Kt). Substantial impacts are found for many gases, including Ox (O3+O(3P)), NOx (NO+NO2) and OH. The Ox daily average mixing ratio decreases due to heterogeneous reactions on dust. The change ranges from −2.5 to −18.4 nmol mol−1, and is larger for faster mixing with upwind air masses (i.e. greater Kt). This translates into a large relative change in Ox, ranging from −44% to −55%, depending on Kt. By assuming an artificial 50% decrease of all photolysis rates, the impacts of dust via perturbation of the photolysis rates in the polluted region are also estimated. Furthermore, the uncertainties in the results due to the uncertainties in the uptake coefficients are evaluated. It is found that for all gases which are heterogeneously removed, the self-removal results in the largest uncertainty (e.g. −49% for O3, −76% for NO2, −47% for HNO3, −92% for HCHO, −64% for CH3OH and −93% for SO2). The heterogeneous removal of NO2 is found to be particularly important, because it results in significant levels of uncertainty not only for itself, but also for OH (340%) and HO2 (365%). Moreover, the heterogeneous removal rates of HCHO and O3 also have farther-reaching effects on the OH concentration (resulting in changes of −55% and 45%, respectively), and the heterogeneous removal of HCHO results in an uncertainty of −38% in the HO2 concentration. The limitations of MECCA due to its missing oxidation mechanism for aromatics and other higher VOC species has also been considered, and shown to be potentially important in the quantitative results, though not likely to change the qualitative results of this study.

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