Simulation of the evolution of biomass burning organic aerosol with different volatility basis set schemes in PMCAMx-SRv1.0

Theodoritsi, Georgia N.; Ciarelli, Giancarlo; Pandis, Spyros N.

A source-resolved three-dimensional chemical transport model, PMCAMx-SR (Particulate Matter Comprehensive Air-quality Model with extensions – Source Resolved), was applied in the continental US to investigate the contribution of the various components (primary and secondary) of biomass burning organic aerosol (bbOA) to organic aerosol levels. Two different schemes based on the volatility basis set were used for the simulation of the bbOA during different seasons. The first is the default scheme of PMCAMx-SR, and the second is a recently developed scheme based on laboratory experiments of the bbOA evolution.

The simulations with the alternative bbOA scheme predict much higher total bbOA concentrations when compared with the base case ones. This is mainly due to the high emissions of intermediate-volatility organic compounds (IVOCs) assumed in the alternative scheme. The oxidation of these compounds is predicted to be a significant source of secondary organic aerosol. The impact of the other parameters that differ in the two schemes is low to negligible. The monthly average maximum predicted concentrations of the alternative bbOA scheme were approximately an order of magnitude higher than those of the default scheme during all seasons.

The performance of the two schemes was evaluated against observed total organic aerosol concentrations from several measurement sites across the US. The results were different for the different seasons examined. The default scheme performed better during July and September, while the alternative scheme performed a little better during April. These results illustrate the uncertainty of the corresponding predictions and the need to quantify the emissions and reactions of IVOCs from specific biomass sources and to better constrain the total (primary and secondary) bbOA levels.



Theodoritsi, Georgia N. / Ciarelli, Giancarlo / Pandis, Spyros N.: Simulation of the evolution of biomass burning organic aerosol with different volatility basis set schemes in PMCAMx-SRv1.0. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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