24 Mar 2023
 | 24 Mar 2023

Anthropogenic amplification of biogenic secondary organic aerosol production

Yiqi Zheng, Larry W. Horowitz, Raymond Menzel, David J. Paynter, Vaishali Naik, Jingyi Li, and Jingqiu Mao

Abstract. Biogenic secondary organic aerosols (SOA) contribute to a large fraction of fine aerosols globally, impacting air quality and climate. The formation of biogenic SOA depends on not only emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) but also anthropogenic pollutants including primary organic aerosol, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). However, the anthropogenic impact on biogenic SOA production (AIBS) remains unclear. Here we use the decadal trend and variability of observed OA in the southeast US, combined with a global chemistry-climate model, to better constrain AIBS. We show that the reduction in SO2 emissions can only explain 40 % of the decreasing decadal trend of OA in this region, constrained by the low summertime month-to-month variability of surface OA. We hypothesize that the rest of OA decreasing trend is largely due to reduction in NOx emissions. By implementing a scheme for monoterpene SOA with enhanced sensitivity to NOx, our model can reproduce the decadal trend and variability of OA in this region. Extending to centennial scale, our model shows that global SOA production increases by 36 % despite BVOC reductions from preindustrial period to present day, largely amplified by AIBS. Our work suggests a strong coupling between anthropogenic and biogenic emissions in biogenic SOA production that is missing from current climate models.

Yiqi Zheng et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-372', Anonymous Referee #2, 11 Apr 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-372', Anonymous Referee #3, 18 Apr 2023

Yiqi Zheng et al.


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Short summary
Biogenic secondary organic aerosols (SOA) account for a large fraction of fine aerosol at global scale. Using long-term measurements and a climate model, we investigate anthropogenic impacts on biogenic SOA at both decadal and centennial time scales. Results show that despite reductions in biogenic precursor emissions, SOA has been strongly amplified by anthropogenic emissions since the preindustrial era and exerts a cooling radiative forcing.