Composition of gaseous organic carbon during ECOCEM in Beirut, Lebanon: new observational constraints for VOC anthropogenic emission evaluation in the Middle East
Abstract. The relative importance of eastern Mediterranean emissions is suspected to be largely underestimated compared to other regions worldwide. Here we use detailed speciated measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to evaluate the spatial heterogeneity of VOC urban emission composition and the consistency of regional and global emission inventories downscaled to Lebanon (European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme, EMEP; Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Model Intercomparison Project, ACCMIP; and MACCity, Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate and megaCITY Zoom for the Environment). The assessment was conducted through the comparison of the emission ratios (ERs) extracted from the emission inventories to the ones obtained from the hourly observations collected at a suburban site in Beirut, Lebanon, during summer and winter ECOCEM (Emissions and Chemistry of Organic Carbon in the Eastern Mediterranean) campaigns. The observed ERs were calculated using two independent methods. ER values from both methods agree very well and are comparable to the ones of the road transport sector from near-field measurements for more than 80 % of the species. There is no significant seasonality in ER for more than 90 % of the species, unlike the seasonality usually observed in other cities worldwide. Regardless of the season, ERs agree within a factor of 2 between Beirut and other representative cities worldwide, except for the unburned fuel fraction and ethane. ERs of aromatics (except benzene) are higher in Beirut compared to northern post-industrialized countries and even the Middle Eastern city Mecca. The comparison of the observed ER to the ones extracted from the ACCMIP and MACCity global emission inventories suggests that the overall speciation of anthropogenic sources for major hydrocarbons that act as ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) precursors in ACCMIP is better represented than other species.
The comparison of the specific road transport ERs, relative to acetylene derived from near-field measurements, to ERs from ACCMIP and EMEP emission inventories for the road transport sector showed that ERs of more reactive species are usually consistent within a factor of 2 with EMEP, while xylenes and toluene are underestimated by over a factor of 2 by ACCMIP.
The observed heterogeneity of anthropogenic VOC emission composition between Middle Eastern cities can be significant for reactive VOCs but is not depicted by global emission inventories. This suggests that systematic and detailed measurements are needed in the eastern Mediterranean Basin in order to better constrain emission inventory.