skip to main content

Title: Limitations of assuming internal mixing between different aerosol species: a case study with sulfate geoengineering simulations
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 ultimately more » 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
; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1739 to 1756
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Absorbing aerosols, like black carbon (BC), give rise to rapid adjustments, and the associated perturbation to the atmospheric temperature structure alters the cloud distribution. The level of scientific understanding of these rapid cloud adjustments—otherwise known as semi-direct effects (SDEs)—is considered low, with models indicating a likely negative (−0.44 to +0.1 Wm−2) forcing. Recent studies suggest this negative SDE is primarily driven by decreases in high-level clouds and enhanced longwave cooling. Here, we investigate the SDE using multiple models driven by observationally constrained fine-mode aerosol forcing without dust and sea salt. Unlike aerosol simulations, which yield a relatively vertically uniform aerosol atmospheric heating profile with significant upper-tropospheric heating, observation-based heating peaks in the lower-troposphere and then decays to zero in the mid-troposphere. We find a significant global annual mean decrease in low- and mid-level clouds, and weaker decreases in high-level clouds, which leads to a positive SDE dominated by shortwave radiation. Thus, in contrast to most studies, we find a robust positive SDE, implying cloud adjustments act to warm the climate system. Sensitivity tests with identical average, but vertically uniform observationally constrained aerosol atmospheric heating result in a negative SDE, due to enhanced longwave cooling as a result of large reductionsmore »in high-level clouds. Our results therefore suggest that model simulations lead to a negatively biased SDE, due to an aerosol atmospheric heating profile that is too vertically uniform.

    « less
  2. Abstract. We implement the GEOS-Chem chemistry module as a chemical mechanism in version 2 of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Our implementation allowsthe state-of-the-science GEOS-Chem chemistry module to be used with identical emissions, meteorology, and climate feedbacks as the CAM-chemchemistry module within CESM. We use coupling interfaces to allow GEOS-Chem to operate almost unchanged within CESM. Aerosols are converted at eachtime step between the GEOS-Chem bulk representation and the size-resolved representation of CESM's Modal Aerosol Model (MAM4). Land-type informationneeded for dry-deposition calculations in GEOS-Chem is communicated through a coupler, allowing online land–atmosphere interactions. Wet scavengingin GEOS-Chem is replaced with the Neu and Prather scheme, and a common emissions approach is developed for both CAM-chem and GEOS-Chem in CESM. We compare how GEOS-Chem embedded in CESM (C-GC) compares to the existing CAM-chem chemistry option (C-CC) when used to simulate atmosphericchemistry in 2016, with identical meteorology and emissions. We compare the atmospheric composition and deposition tendencies between the twosimulations and evaluate the residual differences between C-GC and its use as a stand-alone chemistry transport model in the GEOS-Chem HighPerformance configuration (S-GC). We find that stratospheric ozone agrees well between the three models, with differences of less than 10 % inthe core of themore »ozone layer, but that ozone in the troposphere is generally lower in C-GC than in either C-CC or S-GC. This is likely due to greatertropospheric concentrations of bromine, although other factors such as water vapor may contribute to lesser or greater extents depending on theregion. This difference in tropospheric ozone is not uniform, with tropospheric ozone in C-GC being 30 % lower in the Southern Hemisphere whencompared with S-GC but within 10 % in the Northern Hemisphere. This suggests differences in the effects of anthropogenic emissions. Aerosolconcentrations in C-GC agree with those in S-GC at low altitudes in the tropics but are over 100 % greater in the upper troposphere due todifferences in the representation of convective scavenging. We also find that water vapor concentrations vary substantially between the stand-aloneand CESM-implemented version of GEOS-Chem, as the simulated hydrological cycle in CESM diverges from that represented in the source NASA Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (Version 2; MERRA-2)reanalysis meteorology which is used directly in the GEOS-Chem chemistrytransport model (CTM). Our implementation of GEOS-Chem as a chemistry option in CESM (including full chemistry–climate feedback) is publicly available and is beingconsidered for inclusion in the CESM main code repository. This work is a significant step in the MUlti-Scale Infrastructure for Chemistry andAerosols (MUSICA) project, enabling two communities of atmospheric researchers (CESM and GEOS-Chem) to share expertise through a common modelingframework, thereby accelerating progress in atmospheric science.« less
  3. Abstract. Sulfate geoengineering (SG) methods based on lower stratospheric tropical injection of sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been widely discussed in recent years, focusing on the direct and indirect effects they would have on the climate system. Here a potential alternative method is discussed, where sulfur emissions are located at the surface or in the troposphere in the form of carbonyl sulfide (COS) gas. There are two time-dependent chemistry–climate model experiments designed from the years 2021 to 2055, assuming a 40 Tg-Syr-1 artificial global flux of COS, which is geographically distributed following the present-day anthropogenic COS surface emissions (SG-COS-SRF) or a 6 Tg-Syr-1 injection of COS in the tropical upper troposphere (SG-COS-TTL). The budget of COS and sulfur species is discussed, as are the effects of both SG-COS strategies on the stratospheric sulfate aerosol optical depth (∼Δτ=0.080 in the years 2046–2055), aerosol effective radius (0.46 µm), surface SOx deposition (+8.9 % for SG-COS-SRF; +3.3 % for SG-COS-TTL), and tropopause radiative forcing (RF; ∼-1.5 W m−2 in all-sky conditions in both SG-COS experiments). Indirect effects on ozone, methane and stratospheric water vapour are also considered, along with the COS direct contribution. According to our model results, the resulting net RF is −1.3 W m−2, for SG-COS-SRF, and −1.5 W m−2, for SG-COS-TTL, andmore »it is comparable to the corresponding RF of −1.7 W m−2 obtained with a sustained injection of 4 Tg-Syr-1 in the tropical lower stratosphere in the form of SO2 (SG-SO2, which is able to produce a comparable increase of the sulfate aerosol optical depth). Significant changes in the stratospheric ozone response are found in both SG-COS experiments with respect to SG-SO2 (∼5 DU versus +1.4 DU globally). According to the model results, the resulting ultraviolet B (UVB) perturbation at the surface accounts for −4.3 % as a global and annual average (versus −2.4 % in the SG-SO2 case), with a springtime Antarctic decrease of −2.7 % (versus a +5.8 % increase in the SG-SO2 experiment). Overall, we find that an increase in COS emissions may be feasible and produce a more latitudinally uniform forcing without the need for the deployment of stratospheric aircraft. However, our assumption that the rate of COS uptake by soils and plants does not vary with increasing COS concentrations will need to be investigated in future work, and more studies are needed on the prolonged exposure effects to higher COS values in humans and ecosystems.« less
  4. Abstract. This study presents a characterization of the hygroscopic growth behaviour and effects of different inorganic seed particles on the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) from the dark ozone-initiated oxidation of isoprene at low NOx conditions. We performed simulations of isoprene oxidation using a gas-phase chemical reaction mechanism based onthe Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) in combination with an equilibriumgas–particle partitioning model to predict the SOA concentration. Theequilibrium model accounts for non-ideal mixing in liquid phases, includingliquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS), and is based on the AIOMFAC (Aerosol Inorganic–Organic Mixtures Functional groups Activity Coefficients) model for mixture non-ideality and the EVAPORATION (Estimation of VApour Pressure of ORganics, Accounting for Temperature,Intramolecular, and Non-additivity effects) model for pure compound vapourpressures. Measurements from the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD)chamber experiments, conducted at the European Organization for NuclearResearch (CERN) for isoprene ozonolysis cases, were used to aid inparameterizing the SOA yields at different atmospherically relevanttemperatures, relative humidity (RH), and reacted isoprene concentrations. To represent the isoprene-ozonolysis-derived SOA, a selection of organicsurrogate species is introduced in the coupled modelling system. The modelpredicts a single, homogeneously mixed particle phase at all relativehumidity levels for SOA formation in the absence of any inorganic seedparticles. In the presence ofmore »aqueous sulfuric acid or ammonium bisulfateseed particles, the model predicts LLPS to occur below ∼ 80 % RH, where the particles consist of an inorganic-rich liquid phase andan organic-rich liquid phase; however, this includes significant amounts of bisulfate and water partitioned to the organic-rich phase. The measurements show an enhancement in the SOA amounts at 85 % RH, compared to 35 % RH, for both the seed-free and seeded cases. The model predictions of RH-dependent SOA yield enhancements at 85 % RH vs. 35 % RH are 1.80 for a seed-free case, 1.52 for the case with ammonium bisulfate seed, and 1.06 for the case with sulfuric acid seed. Predicted SOA yields are enhanced in the presence of an aqueous inorganic seed, regardless of the seed type (ammonium sulfate, ammonium bisulfate, or sulfuric acid) in comparison with seed-free conditions at the same RH level. We discuss the comparison of model-predicted SOA yields with a selection of other laboratory studies on isoprene SOA formation conducted at different temperatures and for a variety of reacted isoprene concentrations. Those studies were conducted at RH levels at or below 40 % with reported SOA mass yields ranging from 0.3 % up to 9.0 %, indicating considerable variations. A robust feature of our associated gas–particle partitioning calculations covering the whole RH range is the predicted enhancement of SOA yield at high RH (> 80 %) compared to low RH (dry) conditions, which is explained by the effect of particle water uptake and its impact on the equilibrium partitioning of all components.« less
  5. Blum, Joel (Ed.)
    Atmospheric oxidation of isoprene yields large quantities of highly water-soluble isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX) that partition into fogs, clouds, and wet aerosols. In aqueous aerosols, the acid-catalyzed ring-opening of IEPOX followed by nucleophilic addition of inorganic sulfate or water forms organosulfates and 2-methyltetrols, respectively, contributing substantially to secondary organic aerosol (SOA). However, the fate of IEPOX in clouds, fogs, and evaporating hydrometeors is not well understood. Here we investigate the rates, product branching ratios, and stereochemistry of organosulfates from reactions of dilute IEPOX (5–10 mM) under a range of sulfate concentrations (0.3–50 mM) and pH values (1.83–3.38) in order to better understand the fate of IEPOX in clouds and fogs. From these aqueous dark reactions of β-IEPOX isomers (trans- and cis-2-methyl-2,3-epoxybutane-1,4-diols), which are the predominant IEPOX isomers, products were identified and quantified using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography coupled to an electrospray ionization high-resolution quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer operated in negative ion mode (HILIC/(−)ESI-HR-QTOFMS). We found that the regiochemistry and stereochemistry were affected by pH, and the tertiary methyltetrol sulfate (C5H12O7S) was promoted by increasing solution acidity. Furthermore, the rate constants for the reaction of IEPOX under cloud-relevant conditions are up to 1 order of magnitude lower than reported in the literaturemore »for aerosol-relevant conditions due to a markedly different solution activities. Nevertheless, the contribution of cloud and fog water reactions to IEPOX SOA may be significant in cases of lower aqueous-phase pH (model estimate) or during droplet evaporation (not studied).« less