Modeling organic aerosol concentrations and properties during winter 2014 in the northwestern Mediterranean region

Chrit, Mounir; Sartelet, Karine; Sciare, Jean; Majdi, Marwa; Nicolas, José; Petit, Jean-Eudes; Dulac, François

Organic aerosols are measured at a remote site (Ersa) on the cape of Corsica in the northwestern Mediterranean basin during the winter campaign of 2014 of the CHemistry and AeRosols Mediterranean EXperiment (CharMEx), when high organic concentrations from anthropogenic origins are observed. This work aims to represent the observed organic aerosol concentrations and properties (oxidation state) using the air-quality model Polyphemus with a surrogate approach for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation. Because intermediate and semi-volatile organic compounds (I/S-VOCs) are the main precursors of SOAs at Ersa during winter 2014, different parameterizations to represent the emission and aging of I/S-VOCs were implemented in the chemistry-transport model of Polyphemus (different volatility distribution emissions and single-step oxidation vs multi-step oxidation within a volatility basis set – VBS – framework, inclusion of non-traditional volatile organic compounds – NTVOCs). Simulations using the different parameterizations are compared to each other and to the measurements (concentration and oxidation state). The highly observed organic concentrations are well reproduced in all the parameterizations. They are slightly underestimated in most parameterizations. The volatility distribution at emissions influences the concentrations more strongly than the choice of the parameterization that may be used for aging (single-step oxidation vs multi-step oxidation), stressing the importance of an accurate characterization of emissions. Assuming the volatility distribution of sectors other than residential heating to be the same as residential heating may lead to a strong underestimation of organic concentrations. The observed organic oxidation and oxygenation states are strongly underestimated in all simulations, even when multigenerational aging of I/S-VOCs from all sectors is modeled. This suggests that uncertainties in the emissions and aging of I/S-VOC emissions remain to be elucidated, with a potential role of formation of organic nitrate and low-volatility highly oxygenated organic molecules.

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Chrit, Mounir / Sartelet, Karine / Sciare, Jean / et al: Modeling organic aerosol concentrations and properties during winter 2014 in the northwestern Mediterranean region. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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