Articles | Volume 11, issue 20
Research article
18 Oct 2011
Research article |  | 18 Oct 2011

Evaluation of a three-dimensional chemical transport model (PMCAMx) in the European domain during the EUCAARI May 2008 campaign

C. Fountoukis, P. N. Racherla, H. A. C. Denier van der Gon, P. Polymeneas, P. E. Charalampidis, C. Pilinis, A. Wiedensohler, M. Dall'Osto, C. O'Dowd, and S. N. Pandis

Abstract. PMCAMx-2008, a detailed three-dimensional chemical transport model (CTM), was applied to Europe to simulate the mass concentration and chemical composition of particulate matter (PM) during May 2008. The model includes a state-of-the-art organic aerosol module which is based on the volatility basis set framework treating both primary and secondary organic components as semivolatile and photochemically reactive. The model performance is evaluated against high time resolution aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) ground and airborne measurements. Overall, organic aerosol is predicted to account for 32% of total PM1 at ground level during May 2008, followed by sulfate (30%), crustal material and sea-salt (14%), ammonium (13%), nitrate (7%), and elemental carbon (4%). The model predicts that fresh primary OA (POA) is a small contributor to organic PM concentrations in Europe during late spring, and that oxygenated species (oxidized primary and biogenic secondary) dominate the ambient OA. The Mediterranean region is the only area in Europe where sulfate concentrations are predicted to be much higher than the OA, while organic matter is predicted to be the dominant PM1 species in central and northern Europe. The comparison of the model predictions with the ground measurements in four measurement stations is encouraging. The model reproduces more than 94% of the daily averaged data and more than 87% of the hourly data within a factor of 2 for PM1 OA. The model tends to predict relatively flat diurnal profiles for PM1 OA in many areas, both rural and urban in agreement with the available measurements. The model performance against the high time resolution airborne measurements at multiple altitudes and locations is as good as its performance against the ground level hourly measurements. There is no evidence of missing sources of OA aloft over Europe during this period.

Final-revised paper