New methodology shows short atmospheric lifetimes of oxidized sulfur and nitrogen due to dry deposition.

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From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 11)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 274 words

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Abstract :

The atmospheric lifetimes of pollutants determine their impacts on human health, ecosystems and climate, and yet, pollutant lifetimes due to dry deposition over large regions have not been determined from measurements. Here, a new methodology based on aircraft observations is used to determine the lifetimes of oxidized sulfur and nitrogen due to dry deposition over (3-6)x103 km.sup.2 of boreal forest in Canada. Dry deposition fluxes decreased exponentially with distance from the Athabasca oil sands sources, located in northern Alberta, resulting in lifetimes of 2.2-26 h. Fluxes were 2-14 and 1-18 times higher than model estimates for oxidized sulfur and nitrogen, respectively, indicating dry deposition velocities which were 1.2-5.4 times higher than those computed for models. A Monte Carlo analysis with five commonly used inferential dry deposition algorithms indicates that such model underestimates of dry deposition velocity are typical. These findings indicate that deposition to vegetation surfaces is likely underestimated in regional and global chemical transport models regardless of the model algorithm used. The model-observation gaps may be reduced if surface pH and quasi-laminar and aerodynamic resistances in algorithms are optimized as shown in the Monte Carlo analysis. Assessing the air quality and climate impacts of atmospheric pollutants on regional and global scales requires improved measurement-based understanding of atmospheric lifetimes of these pollutants.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A663854317