Articles | Volume 12, issue 15
Research article
03 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 03 Aug 2012

Parameterization of black carbon aging in the OsloCTM2 and implications for regional transport to the Arctic

M. T. Lund and T. Berntsen

Abstract. A critical parameter for the atmospheric lifetime of black carbon (BC) aerosols, and hence for the range over which the particles can be transported, is the aging time, i.e. the time before the aerosols become available for removal by wet deposition. This study compares two different parameterizations of BC aging in the chemistry transport model OsloCTM2: (i) A bulk parameterization (BULK) where aging is represented by a constant transfer to hydrophilic mode and (ii) a microphysical module (M7) where aging occurs through particle interaction and where the particle size distribution is accounted for. We investigate the effect of including microphysics on the distribution of BC globally and in the Arctic. We also focus on the impact on estimated contributions to Arctic BC from selected emission source regions. With more detailed microphysics (M7) there are regional and seasonal variations in aging. The aging is slower during high-latitude winter, when the production of sulfate is lower, than in lower latitudes and during summer. High-latitude concentrations of BC are significantly increased during winter compared to BULK. Furthermore, M7 improves the model performance at Arctic surface stations, especially the accumulation of BC during winter. A proper representation of vertical BC load is important because the climate effects of the aerosols depend on their altitude in the atmosphere. Comparisons with measured vertical profiles indicate that the model generally overestimates the BC load, particularly at higher altitudes, and this overestimation is exacerbated with M7 compared to BULK. Both parameterizations show that north of 65° N emissions in Europe contribute most to atmospheric BC concentration and to BC in snow and ice. M7 leads to a pronounced seasonal pattern in contributions and contributions from Europe and Russia increase strongly during winter relative to BULK. There is generally an increase in the amount of BC in snow and ice with M7 compared to BULK. However, in regions where the concentration of BC in snow is strongly underestimated with BULK compared to measurements, this increase with M7 is not sufficient to significantly improve the comparison.

Final-revised paper