02 Mar 2023
 | 02 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Sensitivity of Northeast U.S. surface ozone predictions to the representation of atmospheric chemistry in CRACMMv1.0

Bryan K. Place, William T. Hutzell, K. Wyat Appel, Sara Farrell, Lukas Valin, Benjamin N. Murphy, Karl M. Seltzer, Golam Sarwar, Christine Allen, Ivan R. Piletic, Emma L. D'Ambro, Emily Saunders, Heather Simon, Ana Torres-Vasquez, Jonathan Pleim, Rebecca H. Schwantes, Matthew M. Coggon, Lu Xu, William R. Stockwell, and Havala O. T. Pye

Abstract. Chemical mechanisms describe how emissions of gases and particles evolve in the atmosphere and are used within chemical transport models to evaluate past, current, and future air quality. Thus, a chemical mechanism must provide robust and accurate predictions of air pollutants if it is to be considered for use by regulatory bodies. In this work, we provide an initial evaluation of the Community Regional Atmospheric Chemical Multiphase Mechanism (CRACMMv1.0) by assessing CRACMMv1.0 predictions of surface ozone (O3) across the Northeast U.S. during the summer of 2018 within the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) modeling system. CRACMMv1.0 O3 predictions of hourly and maximum daily 8-hour average (MDA8) ozone were lower than those estimated by the Regional Atmospheric Chemical Mechanism (RACM2_ae6), which better matched surface network observations in the Northeast US (RACM2_ae6 mean bias of +4.2 ppb for all hours and +4.3 ppb for MDA8; CRACMMv1.0 mean bias of +2.1 ppb for all hours and +2.7 ppb for MDA8). Box model calculations combined with results from CMAQ emission reduction simulations indicated high sensitivity of O3 to compounds with biogenic sources. In addition, these calculations indicated the differences between CRACMMv1.0 and RACM2_ae6 O3 predictions were largely explained by updates to the inorganic rate constants (reflecting the latest assessment values) and by updates to the representation of monoterpene chemistry. Updates to other reactive organic carbon systems between RACM2_ae6 and CRACMMv1.0 also affected ozone predictions and their sensitivity to emissions. Specifically, CRACMMv1.0 benzene, toluene, and xylene chemistry led to efficient NOx cycling such that CRACMMv1.0 predicted controlling aromatics reduces ozone without rural O3 disbenefits. In contrast, semivolatile to intermediate volatility alkanes introduced in CRACMMv1.0 acted to suppress O3 formation across the regional background through the sequestration of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in organic nitrates. Overall, these analyses showed that the CRACMMv1.0 mechanism within the CMAQ model was able to reasonably simulate ozone concentrations in the Northeast US during the summer of 2018 with similar magnitude and diurnal variation as the current operational Carbon Bond (CB6r3_ae7) and good model performance compared to recent modelling studies in the literature.

Bryan K. Place et al.

Status: open (until 20 Apr 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Bryan K. Place et al.

Model code and software

Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) Modeling System Repository U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

CMAQ version 5.4 U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development

CRACMM Repository U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Bryan K. Place et al.


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Short summary
Ground-level ozone is a pollutant with adverse human health and ecosystem effects. Air quality models allow scientists to understand chemical production of ozone and demonstrate impacts of air quality management plans. In this work, the role of multiple systems in ozone production were investigated for the northeast U.S. in summer. Model updates to chemical reaction rates and monoterpene chemistry were most influential in decreasing predicted ozone and improving agreement with observations.