skip to main content

Title: Heterogeneous sulfate aerosol formation mechanisms during wintertime Chinese haze events: air quality model assessment using observations of sulfate oxygen isotopes in Beijing
Abstract. Air quality models have not been able to reproduce the magnitude of theobserved concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) duringwintertime Chinese haze events. The discrepancy has been at least partlyattributed to low biases in modeled sulfate production rates, due to the lackof heterogeneous sulfate production on aerosolsin the models. In this study, we explicitly implement four heterogeneous sulfate formationmechanisms into a regional chemical transport model, in addition togas-phase and in-cloud sulfate production. We compare the model results withobservations of sulfate concentrations and oxygen isotopes, Δ17O(SO42-), in the winter of 2014–2015, the latter of whichis highly sensitive to the relative importance of different sulfateproduction mechanisms. Model results suggest that heterogeneous sulfateproduction on aerosols accounts for about 20 % of sulfate production inclean and polluted conditions, partially reducing the modeled low bias insulfate concentrations. Model sensitivity studies in comparison with theΔ17O(SO42-) observations suggest that heterogeneoussulfate formation is dominated by transition metal ion-catalyzed oxidation of SO2.
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1644998 1645062
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
6107 to 6123
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract. Discerning mechanisms of sulfate formation during fine-particle pollution (referred to as haze hereafter) in Beijing is important for understanding the rapid evolution of haze and for developing cost-effective air pollution mitigation strategies. Here we present observations of the oxygen-17 excess of PM2.5 sulfate (Δ17O(SO42−)) collected in Beijing haze from October 2014 to January 2015 to constrain possible sulfate formation pathways. Throughout the sampling campaign, the 12-hourly averaged PM2.5 concentrations ranged from 16 to 323µg m−3 with a mean of (141  ±  88 (1σ))µg m−3, with SO42− representing 8–25% of PM2.5 mass. The observed Δ17O(SO42−) varied from 0.1 to 1.6‰ with a mean of (0.9  ±  0.3)‰. Δ17O(SO42−) increased with PM2.5 levels in October 2014 while the opposite trend was observed from November 2014 to January 2015. Our estimate suggested that in-cloud reactions dominated sulfate production on polluted days (PDs, PM2.5  ≥  75µg m−3) of Case II in October 2014 due to the relatively high cloud liquid water content, with a fractional contribution of up to 68%. During PDs of Cases I and III–V, heterogeneous sulfate production (Phet) was estimated to contribute 41–54% to total sulfate formation with a mean of (48  ±  5)%. For the specific mechanisms of heterogeneous oxidation of SO2, chemicalmore »reaction kinetics calculations suggested S(IV) ( = SO2 ⚫H2O+HSO3  +  SO32−) oxidation by H2O2 in aerosol water accounted for 5–13% of Phet. The relative importance of heterogeneous sulfate production by other mechanisms was constrained by our observed Δ17O(SO42−). Heterogeneous sulfate production via S(IV) oxidation by O3 was estimated to contribute 21–22% of Phet on average. Heterogeneous sulfate production pathways that result in zero-Δ17O(SO42−), such as S(IV) oxidation by NO2 in aerosol water and/or by O2 via a radical chain mechanism, contributed the remaining 66–73% of Phet. The assumption about the thermodynamic state of aerosols (stable or metastable) was found to significantly influence the calculated aerosol pH (7.6  ±  0.1 or 4.7  ±  1.1, respectively), and thus influence the relative importance of heterogeneous sulfate production via S(IV) oxidation by NO2 and by O2. Our local atmospheric conditions-based calculations suggest sulfate formation via NO2 oxidation can be the dominant pathway in aerosols at high-pH conditions calculated assuming stable state while S(IV) oxidation by O2 can be the dominant pathway providing that highly acidic aerosols (pH ≤ 3) exist. Our local atmospheric-conditions-based calculations illustrate the utility of Δ17O(SO42−) for quantifying sulfate formation pathways, but this estimate may be further improved with future regional modeling work.

    « less
  2. Abstract. Simulating the complex aerosol microphysical processes in a comprehensive Earth system model can be very computationally intensive; therefore many models utilize a modal approach, where aerosol size distributions are represented by observation-derived lognormal functions, and internal mixing between different aerosol species within an aerosol mode is often assumed. This approach has been shown to yield satisfactory results across a large array of applications, but there may be cases where the simplification in this approach may produce some shortcomings. In this work we show specific conditions under which the current approximations used in some modal approaches might yield incorrect answers. Using results from the Community Earth System Model v1 (CESM1) Geoengineering Large Ensemble (GLENS) project, we analyze the effects in the troposphere of a continuous increasing load of sulfate aerosols in the stratosphere, with the aim of counteracting the surface warming produced by non-mitigated increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations between 2020–2100. We show that the simulated results pertaining to the evolution of sea salt and dust aerosols in the upper troposphere are not realistic due to internal mixing assumptions in the modal aerosol treatment, which in this case reduces the size, and thus the settling velocities, of those particles and ultimatelymore »changes their mixing ratio below the tropopause. The unnatural increase of these aerosol species affects, in turn, the simulation of upper tropospheric ice formation, resulting in an increase in ice clouds that is not due to any meaningful physical mechanisms. While we show that this does not significantly affect the overall results of the simulations, we point to some areas where results should be interpreted with care in modeling simulations using similar approximations: in particular, in the evolution of upper tropospheric clouds when large amounts of sulfate are present in the stratosphere, as after a large explosive volcanic eruption or in similar stratospheric aerosol injection cases. Finally, we suggest that this can be avoided if sulfate aerosols in the coarse mode, the predominant species in these situations, are treated separately from other aerosol species in the model.« less
  3. Abstract. The Arctic is warming 2 to 3 times faster than the global average, partly due to changes in short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs) including aerosols. In order to study the effects of atmospheric aerosols in this warming, recent past (1990–2014) and future (2015–2050) simulations have been carried out using the GISS-E2.1 Earth system model to study the aerosol burdens and their radiative and climate impacts over the Arctic (>60∘ N), using anthropogenic emissions from the Eclipse V6b and the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) databases, while global annual mean greenhouse gas concentrations were prescribed and kept fixed in all simulations. Results showed that the simulations have underestimated observed surface aerosol levels, in particular black carbon (BC) and sulfate (SO42-), by more than 50 %, with the smallest biases calculated for the atmosphere-only simulations, where winds are nudged to reanalysis data. CMIP6 simulations performed slightly better in reproducing the observed surface aerosol concentrations and climate parameters, compared to the Eclipse simulations. In addition, simulations where atmosphere and ocean are fully coupled had slightly smaller biases in aerosol levels compared to atmosphere-only simulations without nudging. Arctic BC, organic aerosol (OA), and SO42- burdens decrease significantly in all simulations by 10 %–60 % following the reductionsmore »of 7 %–78 % in emission projections, with the Eclipse ensemble showing larger reductions in Arctic aerosol burdens compared to the CMIP6 ensemble. For the 2030–2050 period, the Eclipse ensemble simulated a radiative forcing due to aerosol–radiation interactions (RFARI) of -0.39±0.01 W m−2, which is −0.08 W m−2 larger than the 1990–2010 mean forcing (−0.32 W m−2), of which -0.24±0.01 W m−2 was attributed to the anthropogenic aerosols. The CMIP6 ensemble simulated a RFARI of −0.35 to −0.40 W m−2 for the same period, which is −0.01 to −0.06 W m−2 larger than the 1990–2010 mean forcing of −0.35 W m−2. The scenarios with little to no mitigation (worst-case scenarios) led to very small changes in the RFARI, while scenarios with medium to large emission mitigations led to increases in the negative RFARI, mainly due to the decrease in the positive BC forcing and the decrease in the negative SO42- forcing. The anthropogenic aerosols accounted for −0.24 to −0.26 W m−2 of the net RFARI in 2030–2050 period, in Eclipse and CMIP6 ensembles, respectively. Finally, all simulations showed an increase in the Arctic surface air temperatures throughout the simulation period. By 2050, surface air temperatures are projected to increase by 2.4 to 2.6 ∘C in the Eclipse ensemble and 1.9 to 2.6 ∘C in the CMIP6 ensemble, compared to the 1990–2010 mean. Overall, results show that even the scenarios with largest emission reductions leads to similar impact on the future Arctic surface air temperatures and sea-ice extent compared to scenarios with smaller emission reductions, implying reductions of greenhouse emissions are still necessary to mitigate climate change.« less
  4. Massive Australian wildfires lofted smoke directly into the stratosphere in the austral summer of 2019/20. The smoke led to increases in optical extinction throughout the midlatitudes of the southern hemisphere that rivalled substantial volcanic perturbations. Previous studies have assumed that the smoke became coated with sulfuric acid and water and would deplete the ozone layer through heterogeneous chemistry on those surfaces, as is routinely observed following volcanic enhancements of the stratospheric sulfate layer. Here, observations of extinction and reactive nitrogen species from multiple independent satellites that sampled the smoke region are compared to one another and to model calculations. The data display a strong decrease in reactive nitrogen concentrations with increased aerosol extinction in the stratosphere, which is a known fingerprint for key heterogeneous chemistry on sulfate/H 2 O particles (specifically the hydrolysis of N 2 O 5 to form HNO 3 ). This chemical shift affects not only reactive nitrogen but also chlorine and reactive hydrogen species and is expected to cause midlatitude ozone layer depletion. Comparison of the model ozone to observations suggests that N 2 O 5 hydrolysis contributed to reduced ozone, but additional chemical and/or dynamical processes are also important. These findings suggest that if wildfiremore »smoke injection into the stratosphere increases sufficiently in frequency and magnitude as the world warms due to climate change, ozone recovery under the Montreal Protocol could be impeded, at least sporadically. Modeled austral midlatitude total ozone loss was about 1% in March 2020, which is significant compared to expected ozone recovery of about 1% per decade.« less
  5. Abstract. Isoprene-derived secondary organic aerosol (iSOA) is a significantcontributor to organic carbon (OC) in some forested regions, such astropical rainforests and the Southeastern US. However, its contribution toorganic aerosol in urban areas that have high levels of anthropogenicpollutants is poorly understood. In this study, we examined the formation ofanthropogenically influenced iSOA during summer in Beijing, China. Localisoprene emissions and high levels of anthropogenic pollutants, inparticular NOx and particulate SO42-, led to the formation ofiSOA under both high- and low-NO oxidation conditions, with significantheterogeneous transformations of isoprene-derived oxidation products toparticulate organosulfates (OSs) and nitrooxy-organosulfates (NOSs).Ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to high-resolution massspectrometry was combined with a rapid automated data processing techniqueto quantify 31 proposed iSOA tracers in offline PM2.5 filterextracts. The co-elution of the inorganic ions in the extracts caused matrixeffects that impacted two authentic standards differently. The averageconcentration of iSOA OSs and NOSs was 82.5 ng m−3, which was around 3 timeshigher than the observed concentrations of their oxygenated precursors(2-methyltetrols and 2-methylglyceric acid). OS formation was dependant onboth photochemistry and the sulfate available for reactive uptake, as shown by astrong correlation with the product of ozone (O3) and particulatesulfate (SO42-). A greater proportion of high-NO OS products wereobserved in Beijing compared with previousmore »studies in less pollutedenvironments. The iSOA-derived OSs and NOSs represented 0.62 %of the oxidized organic aerosol measured by aerosol mass spectrometry on average, butthis increased to ∼3 % on certain days. These resultsindicate for the first time that iSOA formation in urban Beijing is stronglycontrolled by anthropogenic emissions and results in extensive conversion toOS products from heterogenous reactions.« less