Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
Research article
07 Jan 2011
Research article |  | 07 Jan 2011

The influence of gas-particle partitioning and surface-atmosphere exchange on ammonia during BAQS-Met

R. A. Ellis, J. G. Murphy, M. Z. Markovic, T. C. VandenBoer, P. A. Makar, J. Brook, and C. Mihele

Abstract. The Border Air Quality and Meteorology study (BAQS-Met) was an intensive field campaign conducted in Southwestern Ontario during the summer of 2007. The focus of BAQS-Met was determining the causes of the formation of ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and of the regional significance of trans-boundary transport and lake breeze circulations on that formation. Fast (1 Hz) measurements of ammonia were acquired using a Quantum Cascade Laser Tunable Infrared Differential Absorption Spectrometer (QC-TILDAS) at the Harrow supersite. Measurements of PM2.5 ammonium, sulfate and nitrate were made using an Ambient Ion Monitor Ion Chromatograph (AIM-IC) with hourly time resolution. The median mixing ratio of ammonia was 2.5 ppb, with occasional high spikes at night resulting from local emissions. Measurements were used to assess major local emissions of NH3, diurnal profiles and gas-particle partitioning. The measurements were compared with results from A Unified Regional Air-quality Modelling System (AURAMS). While the fraction of total ammonia (NHx≡NH3 + NH4+) observed in the gas phase peaks between 0.1 and 0.8, AURAMS tended to predict fractions of either less than 0.05 or greater than 0.8. The model frequently predicted acidic aerosol, in contrast with observations wherein NHx almost always exceeded the observed equivalents of sulfate. One explanation for our observations is that the net flux of ammonia from the land surface to the atmosphere increases when aerosol sulfate is present, effectively buffering the mixing ratio of gas phase ammonia, a process not included in the model. A simple representation of an offline bi-directional flux parameterization using the ISORROPIA thermodynamic model was successful at reducing the population of zero gas fraction points, but not the higher gas fraction points.

Final-revised paper