Aerosol acidity and liquid water content regulate the dry deposition of inorganic reactive nitrogen.

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From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 8)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 367 words

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Abstract :

Ecosystem productivity is strongly modulated by the atmospheric deposition of inorganic reactive nitrogen (the sum of ammonium and nitrate). The individual contributions of ammonium and nitrate vary considerably over space and time, giving rise to complex patterns of nitrogen deposition. In the absence of rain, much of this complexity is driven by the large difference between the dry deposition velocity of nitrogen-containing molecules in the gas or condensed phase. Here we quantify how aerosol liquid water and acidity, through their impact on gas-particle partitioning, modulate the deposition velocity of total NH.sub.3 and total HNO.sub.3 individually while simultaneously affecting the dry deposition of inorganic reactive nitrogen. Four regimes of deposition velocity emerge: (i) HNO.sub.3 - fast, NH.sub.3 - slow, (ii) HNO.sub.3 - slow, NH.sub.3 - fast, (iii) HNO.sub.3 - fast, NH.sub.3 - fast, and (iv) HNO.sub.3 - slow, NH.sub.3 - slow. Conditions that favor partitioning of species to the aerosol phase strongly reduce the local deposition of reactive nitrogen species and promote their accumulation in the boundary layer and potential for long-range transport. Application of this framework to select locations around the world reveals fundamentally important insights: the dry deposition of total ammonia displays little sensitivity to pH and liquid water variations, except under conditions of extreme acidity and/or low aerosol liquid water content. The dry deposition of total nitric acid, on the other hand, is quite variable, with maximum deposition velocities (close to gas deposition rates) found in the eastern United States and minimum velocities in northern Europe and China. In the latter case, the low deposition velocity leads to up to 10-fold increases in PM.sub.2.5 nitrate aerosol, thus contributing to the high PM.sub.2.5 levels observed during haze episodes. In this light, aerosol pH and associated liquid water content can be considered to be control parameters that drive dry deposition flux and can accelerate the accumulation of aerosol contributing to intense haze events throughout the globe.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A659343132