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Modelling of nitrate and ammonium-containing aerosols in presence of sea salt

by G. Myhre, A. Grini, S. Metzger
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()


A thermodynamical model for treatment of gas/aerosol partitioning of semi volatile inorganic aerosols has been implemented in a global chemistry and aerosol transport model (Oslo CTM2). The sulphur cycle and sea salt particles have been implemented earlier in the Oslo CTM2 and the focus of this study is on nitrate partitioning to the aerosol phase and if particulate nitrate is expected to form in fine or coarse mode aerosols. Modelling of the formation of fine mode nitrate particles is complicated since it depends on other aerosol components and aerosol precursors as well as meteorological condition. The surface concentrations from the model are compared to observed surface concentrations at around 20 sites around Europe for nitrate and ammonium. The agreement for nitrate is good but the modelled values are somewhat underestimated compared to observations at high concentrations, whereas for ammonium the agreement is very good. However, we underscore that such a comparison is not of large importance for the aerosol optical depth of particulate nitrate since the vertical profile of aerosol components and their precursors are so important. Fine mode nitrate formation depends on vertical profiles of both ammonia/ammonium and sulphate. The model results show that fine mode particulate nitrate play a non-negligible role in the total aerosol composition in certain industrialized regions and therefore have a significant local radiative forcing. On a global scale the aerosol optical depth of fine mode nitrate is relatively small due to limited availability of ammonia and loss to larger sea salt particles. Inclusion of sea salt in the calculations reduces the aerosol optical depth and burden of fine mode nitrate by 25% on a global scale but with large regional variations.

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