Articles | Volume 13, issue 6
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 3379–3392, 2013
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 3379–3392, 2013

Research article 25 Mar 2013

Research article | 25 Mar 2013

North American acetone sources determined from tall tower measurements and inverse modeling

L. Hu1, D. B. Millet1, S. Y. Kim1, K. C. Wells1, T. J. Griffis1, E. V. Fischer2, D. Helmig3, J. Hueber3, and A. J. Curtis3 L. Hu et al.
  • 1Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
  • 2School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • 3Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Colorado, USA

Abstract. We apply a full year of continuous atmospheric acetone measurements from the University of Minnesota tall tower Trace Gas Observatory (KCMP tall tower; 244 m a.g.l.), with a 0.5° × 0.667° GEOS-Chem nested grid simulation to develop quantitative new constraints on seasonal acetone sources over North America. Biogenic acetone emissions in the model are computed based on the MEGANv2.1 inventory. An inverse analysis of the tall tower observations implies a 37% underestimate of emissions from broadleaf trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, and an offsetting 40% overestimate of emissions from needleleaf trees plus secondary production from biogenic precursors. The overall result is a small (16%) model underestimate of the total primary + secondary biogenic acetone source in North America. Our analysis shows that North American primary + secondary anthropogenic acetone sources in the model (based on the EPA NEI 2005 inventory) are accurate to within approximately 20%. An optimized GEOS-Chem simulation incorporating the above findings captures 70% of the variance (R = 0.83) in the hourly measurements at the KCMP tall tower, with minimal bias. The resulting North American acetone source is 11 Tg a−1, including both primary emissions (5.5 Tg a−1) and secondary production (5.5 Tg a−1), and with roughly equal contributions from anthropogenic and biogenic sources. The North American acetone source alone is nearly as large as the total continental volatile organic compound (VOC) source from fossil fuel combustion. Using our optimized source estimates as a baseline, we evaluate the sensitivity of atmospheric acetone and peroxyacetyl nitrate (PAN) to shifts in natural and anthropogenic acetone sources over North America. Increased biogenic acetone emissions due to surface warming are likely to provide a significant offset to any future decrease in anthropogenic acetone emissions, particularly during summer.

Final-revised paper