Influence of aromatics on tropospheric gas-phase composition.

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From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 4)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Article
Length: 441 words

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Abstract :

Aromatics contribute a significant fraction to organic compounds in the troposphere and are mainly emitted by anthropogenic activities and biomass burning. Their oxidation in lab experiments is known to lead to the formation of ozone and aerosol precursors. However, their overall impact on tropospheric composition is uncertain as it depends on transport, multiphase chemistry, and removal processes of the oxidation intermediates. Representation of aromatics in global atmospheric models has been either neglected or highly simplified. Here, we present an assessment of their impact on gas-phase chemistry, using the general circulation model EMAC (ECHAM5/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry). We employ a comprehensive kinetic model to represent the oxidation of the following monocyclic aromatics: benzene, toluene, xylenes, phenol, styrene, ethylbenzene, trimethylbenzenes, benzaldehyde, and lumped higher aromatics that contain more than nine C atoms. Significant regional changes are identified for several species. For instance, glyoxal increases by 130 % in Europe and 260 % in East Asia, respectively. Large increases in HCHO are also predicted in these regions. In general, the influence of aromatics is particularly evident in areas with high concentrations of NO.sub.x, with increases up to 12 % in O.sub.3 and 17 % in OH. On a global scale, the estimated net changes of trace gas levels are minor when aromatic compounds are included in our model. For instance, the tropospheric burden of CO increases by about 6 %, while the burdens of OH, O.sub.3, and NO.sub.x (NO+NO.sub.2) decrease between 3 % and 9 %. The global mean changes are small, partially because of compensating effects between high- and low-NO.sub.x regions. The largest change is predicted for the important aerosol precursor glyoxal, which increases globally by 36 %. In contrast to other studies, the net change in tropospheric ozone is predicted to be negative, -3 % globally. This change is larger in the Northern Hemisphere where global models usually show positive biases. We find that the reaction with phenoxy radicals is a significant loss for ozone, on the order of 200-300 Tg yr.sup.-1, which is similar to the estimated ozone loss due to bromine chemistry. Although the net global impact of aromatics is limited, our results indicate that aromatics can strongly influence tropospheric chemistry on a regional scale, most significantly in East Asia. An analysis of the main model uncertainties related to oxidation and emissions suggests that the impact of aromatics may even be significantly larger.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A652798010