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Secondary Organic Aerosol from Sesquiterpene and Monoterpene Emissions in the United States

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from vegetation are believed to be a major source of secondary organic aerosol (SOA), which in turn comprises a large fraction of fine particulate matter in many areas. Sesquiterpenes are a class of biogenic VOC with high chemical reactivity and SOA yields. Sesquiterpenes have only recently been quantified in emissions from a wide variety of plants. In this study, a new sesquiterpene emission inventory is used to provide input to the Models-3 Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. CMAQ is used to estimate the contribution of sesquiterpenes and monoterpenes to SOA concentrations over the contiguous United States. The gas-particle partitioning module of CMAQ was modified to include condensable products of sesquiterpene oxidation and to update values of the enthalpy of vaporization. The resulting model predicts July monthly average surface concentrations of total SOA in the eastern U.S. ranging from about 0.2-0.8 microg m(-3). This is roughly double the amount of SOA produced in this region when sesquiterpenes are not included. Even with sesquiterpenes included, however, the model significantly underpredicts surface concentrations of particle-phase organic matter compared to observed values. Treating all SOA as capable of undergoing polymerization increases predicted monthly average surface concentrations in July to 0.4-1.2 microg m(-3), in closer agreement with observations. Using the original enthalpy of vaporization value in CMAQ in place of the values estimated from the recent literature results in predicted SOA concentrations of about 0.3-1.3 microg m(-3).

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