Comprehensive isoprene and terpene gas-phase chemistry improves simulated...

Schwantes, R., L. Emmons, J. Orlando, M. C. Barth, G. Tyndall, S. R. Hall, K. Ullmann, J. M. St. Clair, D. R. Blake, A. Wisthaler, and T. P. Bui (2020), Comprehensive isoprene and terpene gas-phase chemistry improves simulated surface ozone in the southeastern US, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 3739-3776, doi:10.5194/acp-20-3739-2020.

Ozone is a greenhouse gas and air pollutant that is harmful to human health and plants. During the summer in the southeastern US, many regional and global models are biased high for surface ozone compared to observations. Past studies have suggested different solutions including the need for updates to model representation of clouds, chemistry, ozone deposition, and emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx ) or biogenic hydrocarbons. Here, due to the high biogenic emissions in the southeastern US, more comprehensive and updated isoprene and terpene chemistry is added into CESM/CAM-chem (Community Earth System Model/Community Atmosphere Model with full chemistry) to evaluate the impact of chemistry on simulated ozone. Comparisons of the model results with data collected during the Studies of Emissions Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4 RS) field campaign and from the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) CASTNET (Clean Air Status and Trends Network) monitoring stations confirm the updated chemistry improves simulated surface ozone, ozone precursors, and NOx reservoir compounds. The isoprene and terpene chemistry updates reduce the bias in the daily maximum 8 h average (MDA8) surface ozone by up to 7 ppb. In the past, terpene oxidation in particular has been ignored or heavily reduced in chemical schemes used in many regional and global models, and this study demonstrates that comprehensive isoprene and terpene chemistry is needed to reduce surface ozone model biases. Sensitivity tests were performed in order to evaluate the impact of lingering uncertainties in isoprene and terpene oxidation on ozone. Results suggest that even though isoprene emissions are higher than terpene emissions in the southeastern US, remaining uncertainties in isoprene and terpene oxidation have similar impacts on ozone due to lower uncertainties in isoprene oxidation. Additionally, this study identifies the need for further constraints on the aerosol uptake of organic nitrates derived from isoprene and terpenes in order to reduce uncertainty in simulated ozone. Although the updates to isoprene and terpene chemistry greatly reduce the ozone bias in CAM-chem, a large bias remains. Evaluation against SEAC4 RS field campaign results suggests future improvements to horizontal resolution and cloud parameterizations in CAM-chem may be particularly important for further reducing this bias.

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Atmospheric Composition
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)