Present-day to 21st century projections of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from a global climate-aerosol model with an explicit SOA formation scheme

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Guangxing Lin, Joyce E Penner and Cheng Zhou, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) has been shown to be an important component of non-refractory submicron aerosol in the atmosphere. The presence of SOA can influence the earth’s radiative balance by contributing to the absorption and scattering of radiation and by altering the properties of clouds. Globally, a large fraction of SOA originates from biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), emissions of which depend on vegetation cover and climate. Temperature, CO2 concentration, and land use and land cover change have been shown to be major drivers of global isoprene emission changes in future climates. Additionally, the SOA concentration in the atmosphere not only depends on BVOC emissions, but is also controlled by anthropogenic emissions, temperature, precipitation and the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere. To project the change in SOA concentrations in the future requires a model that fully couples a BVOC emission model that represents these BVOC emission drivers, together with a sophisticated atmospheric model of SOA formation and properties. Recent studies have suggested that traditional parameterized SOA formation mechanisms that are tuned to fit smog chamber data do not fully account for the complexity and dynamics of real SOA system, calling into the question of the validity and completeness of previous SOA projections.

In this study, we investigate the response of SOA mass to future physical climate change, to land cover and land use change, to changes in BVOCs emissions, and to changes in anthropogenic aerosol and gas species emissions for the year 2100, utilizing a global climate-aerosol model (CAM5-IMPACT): the NCAR Community Atmospheric Model (CAM5) coupled with a global aerosol model (IMPACT). The IMPACT model has sophisticated detailed process-based mechanisms describing aerosol microphysics and SOA formation through both gas phase and multiphase reactions. We perform sensitivity tests to isolate the relative roles of individual global change drivers. The anthropogenic and biomass burning emissions are adopted from representative concentration pathways (RCP) scenarios for future (year 2100) simulations. Biogenic VOC species are predicted from MEGAN 2.1 (Model of Emissions of Gases and Aerosols from Nature, version 2.1) embedded in NCAR Community Land Model (CLM4.5).