Interpretation of measured aerosol mass scattering efficiency over North America using a chemical transport model

Robyn N. C. Latimer, Randall V. Martin
2019 Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Aerosol mass scattering efficiency affects climate forcing calculations, atmospheric visibility, and the interpretation of satellite observations of aerosol optical depth. We evaluated the representation of aerosol mass scattering efficiency (<span class="inline-formula"><i>α</i><sub>sp</sub></span>) in the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model over North America using collocated measurements of aerosol scatter and mass from IMPROVE network sites between 2000 and
more » ... tween 2000 and 2010. We found a positive bias in mass scattering efficiency given current assumptions of aerosol size distributions and particle hygroscopicity in the model. We found that overestimation of mass scattering efficiency was most significant in dry (RH&amp;thinsp;<span class="inline-formula"><i>&amp;lt;</i>35</span>&amp;thinsp;%) and midrange humidity (35&amp;thinsp;%&amp;thinsp;<span class="inline-formula"><i>&amp;lt;</i></span>&amp;thinsp;RH&amp;thinsp;<span class="inline-formula"><i>&amp;lt;</i>65</span>&amp;thinsp;%) conditions, with biases of 82&amp;thinsp;% and 40&amp;thinsp;%, respectively. To address these biases, we investigated assumptions surrounding the two largest contributors to fine aerosol mass, organic (OA) and secondary inorganic aerosols (SIA). Inhibiting hygroscopic growth of SIA below 35&amp;thinsp;% RH and decreasing the dry geometric mean radius, from 0.069&amp;thinsp;<span class="inline-formula">µ</span>m for SIA and 0.073&amp;thinsp;<span class="inline-formula">µ</span>m for OA to 0.058&amp;thinsp;<span class="inline-formula">µ</span>m for both aerosol types, significantly decreased the overall bias observed at IMPROVE sites in dry conditions from 82&amp;thinsp;% to 9&amp;thinsp;%. Implementation of a widely used alternative representation of hygroscopic growth following <span class="inline-formula"><i>κ</i></span>-Kohler theory for secondary inorganic (hygroscopicity parameter <span class="inline-formula"><i>κ</i>=0.61</span>) and organic (<span class="inline-formula"><i>κ</i>=0.10</span>) aerosols eliminated the remaining overall bias in <span class="inline-formula"><i>α</i><sub>sp</sub></span>. Incorporating these changes in aerosol size and hygroscopicity into the GEOS-Chem model resulted in an increase of 16&amp;thinsp;% in simulated annual average <span class="inline-formula"><i>α</i><sub>sp</sub></span> over North America, with larger increases of 25&amp;thinsp;% to 45&amp;thinsp;% in northern regions with high RH and hygroscopic aerosol fractions, and decreases in <span class="inline-formula"><i>α</i><sub>sp</sub></span> up to 15&amp;thinsp;% in the southwestern U.S. where RH is low.</p>
doi:10.5194/acp-19-2635-2019 fatcat:stgdywreyzfftczdr26do2ropi