Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-3145
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-3145
09 Jan 2024
 | 09 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

On the uncertainty of anthropogenic aromatic VOC emissions: evaluation and sensitivity analysis

Kevin Oliveira, Marc Guevara, Oriol Jorba, Hervé Petetin, Dene Bowdalo, Carles Tena, Gilbert Montané Pinto, Franco López, and Carlos Pérez García-Pando

Abstract. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) significantly impact air quality and atmospheric chemistry, influencing ozone formation and secondary organic aerosol production. Despite their importance, the uncertainties associated with representing VOCs in atmospheric emission inventories are considerable. This work presents a spatiotemporal assessment and evaluation of benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) emissions and concentrations in Spain by combining bottom-up emissions, air quality modelling techniques and ground-based observations. The emissions produced by HERMESv3 were used as input to the MONARCH model to simulate surface concentrations across Spain. Comparing modelled and observed levels revealed uncertainty in the anthropogenic emissions, which were further explored through sensitivity tests. The largest levels of observed benzene and xylene were found in industrial sites near coke ovens, refineries and car manufacturing facilities, where the modelling results show large underestimations. Official emissions reported for these facilities were replaced by alternative estimates, allowing to heterogeneously improve the model's performance, highlighting that uncertainties representing industrial emission processes remain. For toluene, consistent overestimations in background stations were mainly related to uncertainties in the spatial disaggregation of emissions from industrial use solvent activities, mainly wood paint applications. Observed benzene levels in Barcelona's urban traffic areas were five times larger than the ones observed in Madrid. MONARCH failed to reproduce the observed gradient between the two cities due to uncertainties in estimating emissions from motorcycles and mopeds. Our results are constrained by the spatial and temporal coverage of available BTX observations, posing a key challenge in evaluating the spatial distribution of modelled levels and associated emissions.

Kevin Oliveira, Marc Guevara, Oriol Jorba, Hervé Petetin, Dene Bowdalo, Carles Tena, Gilbert Montané Pinto, Franco López, and Carlos Pérez García-Pando

Status: open (until 11 Mar 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-3145', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Feb 2024 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-3145', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Feb 2024 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-3145', Anonymous Referee #3, 24 Feb 2024 reply
Kevin Oliveira, Marc Guevara, Oriol Jorba, Hervé Petetin, Dene Bowdalo, Carles Tena, Gilbert Montané Pinto, Franco López, and Carlos Pérez García-Pando
Kevin Oliveira, Marc Guevara, Oriol Jorba, Hervé Petetin, Dene Bowdalo, Carles Tena, Gilbert Montané Pinto, Franco López, and Carlos Pérez García-Pando

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Short summary
In this work, we assess and evaluate benzene, toluene and xylene primary emissions and air quality levels in Spain by combining observations, emission inventories and air quality modelling techniques. The comparison between modelled and observed levels allows identifying uncertainty sources within the emission input. This contributes to improving air quality models' performance when simulating these compounds, leading to better support for the design of effective pollution control strategies.