The potential role of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) in aerosol formation and...

Anna Hodshire, P. Campuzano-Jost, J. K. Kodros, B. Croft, B. Nault, J. C. Schroder, J. Jimenez-Palacios, and J. Pierce (2019), The potential role of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) in aerosol formation and growth and the associated radiative forcings, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 19, 3137-3160, doi:10.5194/acp-19-3137-2019.
Abstract: 

Atmospheric marine aerosol particles impact Earth’s albedo and climate. These particles can be primary or secondary and come from a variety of sources, including sea salt, dissolved organic matter, volatile organic compounds, and sulfur-containing compounds. Dimethylsulfide (DMS) marine emissions contribute greatly to the global biogenic sulfur budget, and its oxidation products can contribute to aerosol mass, specifically as sulfuric acid and methanesulfonic acid (MSA). Further, sulfuric acid is a known nucleating compound, and MSA may be able to participate in nucleation when bases are available. As DMS emissions, and thus MSA and sulfuric acid from DMS oxidation, may have changed since pre-industrial times and may change in a warming climate, it is important to characterize and constrain the climate impacts of both species. Currently, global models that simulate aerosol size distributions include contributions of sulfate and sulfuric acid from DMS oxidation, but to our knowledge, global models typically neglect the impact of MSA on size distributions.

In this study, we use the GEOS-Chem-TOMAS (GCTOMAS) global aerosol microphysics model to determine the impact on aerosol size distributions and subsequent aerosol radiative effects from including MSA in the sizeresolved portion of the model. The effective equilibrium vapor pressure of MSA is currently uncertain, and we use the Extended Aerosol Inorganics Model (E-AIM) to build a parameterization for GC-TOMAS of MSA’s effective volatility as a function of temperature, relative humidity, and available gas-phase bases, allowing MSA to condense as an ideally nonvolatile or semivolatile species or too volatile to condense. We also present two limiting cases for MSA’s volatility, assuming that MSA is always ideally nonvolatile (irreversible condensation) or that MSA is always ideally semivolatile (quasi-equilibrium condensation but still irreversible condensation). We further present simulations in which MSA participates in binary and ternary nucleation with the same efficacy as sulfuric acid whenever MSA is treated as ideally nonvolatile. When using the volatility parameterization described above (both with and without nucleation), including MSA in the model changes the global annual averages at 900 hPa of submicron aerosol mass by 1.2 %, N3 (number concentration of particles greater than 3 nm in diameter) by − 3.9 % (non-nucleating) or 112.5 % (nucleating), N80 by 0.8 % (non-nucleating) or 2.1 % (nucleating), the cloud-albedo aerosol indirect effect (AIE) by −8.6 mW m−2 (non-nucleating) or −26 mW m−2 (nucleating), and the direct radiative effect (DRE) by −15 mW m−2 (non-nucleating) or −14 mW m−2 (nucleating). The sulfate and sulfuric acid from DMS oxidation produces 4–6 times more submicron mass than MSA does, leading to an ∼ 10 times stronger cooling effect in the DRE. But the changes in N80 are comparable between the contributions from MSA and from DMS-derived sulfate/sulfuric acid, leading to comparable changes in the cloud-albedo AIE.

Model–measurement comparisons with the Heintzenberg et al. (2000) dataset over the Southern Ocean indicate that the default model has a missing source or sources of ultrafine particles: the cases in which MSA participates in nucle-

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Research Program: 
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)
Mission: 
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