Sensitivity of aerosol properties to new particle formation mechanism and to primary emissions in a continental scale chemical transport model. Chang L.-S., Schwartz S. E., McGraw R. and Lewis E. R. J. Geophys. Res. 114, D07203 (2009); doi:10.1029/2008JD011019.

Four theoretical formulations of new particle formation (NPF) and one empirical formulation are used to examine the sensitivity of observable aerosol properties to NPF formulation and to properties of emitted particles in a continental-scale model for the United States over a one-month simulation (July 2004). For each formulation, the dominant source of Aitken mode particles is NPF with only a minor contribution from primary emissions, whereas for the accumulation mode both emissions and transfer of particles from the Aitken mode are important. The dominant sink of Aitken mode number is coagulation, whereas the dominant sink of accumulation mode number is wet deposition (including cloud processing), with a minor contribution from coagulation. The aerosol mass concentration, which is primarily in the accumulation mode, is relatively insensitive to NPF formulation despite order-of-magnitude differences in the Aitken mode number concentration among the different parameterizations. The dominant sensitivity of accumulation mode number concentration is to the number of emitted particles (for constant mass emission rate). Comparison of modeled aerosol properties with aircraft measurements shows, as expected, better agreement in aerosol mass concentration than in aerosol number concentration for all NPF formulations considered. These comparisons yield instances of rather accurate simulations in the planetary boundary layer, with poor model performance in the free troposphere attributed mainly to lack of representation of biomass burning and/or to long-range transport of particles from outside the model domain. Agreement between model results and measurements is improved by using smaller grid cells (12 km versus 60 km).


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