Articles | Volume 10, issue 9
12 May 2010
 | 12 May 2010

A global perspective on aerosol from low-volatility organic compounds

H. O. T. Pye and J. H. Seinfeld

Abstract. Global production of organic aerosol from primary emissions of semivolatile (SVOCs) and intermediate (IVOCs) volatility organic compounds is estimated using the global chemical transport model, GEOS-Chem. SVOC oxidation is predicted to be a larger global source of net aerosol production than oxidation of traditional parent hydrocarbons (terpenes, isoprene, and aromatics). Using a prescribed rate constant and reduction in volatility for atmospheric oxidation, the yield of aerosol from SVOCs is predicted to be about 75% on a global, annually-averaged basis. For IVOCs, the use of a naphthalene-like surrogate with different high-NOx and low-NOx parameterizations produces a global aerosol yield of about 30%, or roughly 5 Tg/yr of aerosol. Estimates of the total global organic aerosol source presented here range between 60 and 100 Tg/yr. This range reflects uncertainty in the parameters for SVOC volatility, SVOC oxidation, SVOC emissions, and IVOC emissions, as well as wet deposition. The highest estimates result if SVOC emissions are significantly underestimated (by more than a factor of 2) or if wet deposition of the gas-phase semivolatile species is less effective than previous estimates. A significant increase in SVOC emissions, a reduction of the volatility of the SVOC emissions, or an increase in the enthalpy of vaporization of the organic aerosol all lead to an appreciable reduction of prediction/measurement discrepancy. In addition, if current primary organic aerosol (POA) inventories capture only about one-half of the SVOC emission and the Henrys Law coefficient for oxidized semivolatiles is on the order of 103 M/atm, a global estimate of OA production is not inconsistent with the top-down estimate of 140 Tg/yr by (Goldstein and Galbally, 2007). Additional information is needed to constrain the emissions and treatment of SVOCs and IVOCs, which have traditionally not been included in models.

Final-revised paper