Heterogeneous chemistry: a mechanism missing in current models to explain secondary inorganic aerosol formation during the January 2013 haze episode in North China
Abstract. Severe regional haze pollution events occurred in eastern and central China in January 2013, which had adverse effects on the environment and public health. Extremely high levels of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) with dominant components of sulfate and nitrate are responsible for the haze pollution. Although heterogeneous chemistry is thought to play an important role in the production of sulfate and nitrate during haze episodes, few studies have comprehensively evaluated the effect of heterogeneous chemistry on haze formation in China by using the 3-D models due to of a lack of treatments for heterogeneous reactions in most climate and chemical transport models. In this work, the WRF-CMAQ model with newly added heterogeneous reactions is applied to East Asia to evaluate the impacts of heterogeneous chemistry and the meteorological anomaly during January 2013 on regional haze formation. As the parameterization of heterogeneous reactions on different types of particles is not well established yet, we arbitrarily selected the uptake coefficients from reactions on dust particles and then conducted several sensitivity runs to find the value that can best match observations. The revised CMAQ with heterogeneous chemistry not only captures the magnitude and temporal variation of sulfate and nitrate, but also reproduces the enhancement of relative contribution of sulfate and nitrate to PM2.5 mass from clean days to polluted haze days. These results indicate the significant role of heterogeneous chemistry in regional haze formation and improve the understanding of the haze formation mechanisms during the January 2013 episode.