Sensitivity of modelled sulphate and nitrate aerosol to cloud, pH and ammonia emissions

  • Redington A
  • Derwent R
  • Witham C
 et al. 
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A Lagrangian dispersion model has been used to predict daily sulphate aerosol in 2006 at five UK rural measurement sites and hourly nitrate aerosol in April 2003 at Harwell (UK). The sensitivity of aqueous phase sulphate production to the meteorological input has been investigated. Large differences were found between cloud fraction and cloud liquid water output from the regional and mesoscale Met Office Unified Model. The impact on the sulphate aerosol was relatively small, with the mesoscale meteorology giving better results. Sulphate aerosol production in the aqueous phase was found to be very sensitive to modelled cloud pH. As the cloud becomes acidic sulphate production is greatly limited, conversely if the cloud is basic large amounts of sulphate aerosol are produced. A fixed model pH of 5.8 was found to produce better results than allowing the model to calculate pH which resulted in large over-predictions of measured sulphate aerosol in some episodes. Nitrate aerosol was not sensitive to cloud variables or pH, but showed a slight increase with 30% more ammonia emissions, and a slight decrease with 30% less ammonia. Sulphate production in model runs with fixed pH was not sensitive to changing ammonia emissions, however the sulphate production with modelled pH was very sensitive to plus or minus 30% ammonia. This work suggests that good modelling of ammonia is essential to correct estimation of aqueous phase sulphate aerosol if cloud pH is modelled. It is concluded that modelling to estimate the effect of reduced ammonia emission scenarios on future ambient aerosol levels should also take into account the neutralising effect of ammonia in cloud and hence the effect on aqueous phase production of sulphate. Crown Copyright © 2009.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Modelling
  • Nitrate
  • Particulates
  • Sulphate
  • pH

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