Modeling secondary organic aerosol in an urban area: application to Paris, France


  • Couvidat Florian
  • Kim Youngseob
  • Sartelet Karine
  • Seigneur Christian
  • Marchand Nicolas
  • Sciare J.

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A secondary organic aerosol (SOA) model, H2O (Hydrophilic/Hydrophobic Organic), is evaluated over the Paris area. This model treats the formation of SOA with two kinds of surrogate species: hydrophilic species (which condense preferentially on an aqueous phase) and hydrophobic species (which condense only on an organic phase). These surrogates species are formed from the oxidation in the atmosphere of volatile organic compounds (VOC) by radicals (HO and NO3) and ozone. These VOC are either biogenic (isoprene, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes) or anthropogenic (mainly aromatic compounds). This model includes the formation of aerosols from different precursors (biogenic precursors, aromatics), and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC) from traffic. The H2O aerosol model was incorporated into the Polyphemus air quality modeling platform and applied to the Paris area and evaluated by comparison to measurements performed during the Megapoli campaign in July 2009. The comparison to measurements in the suburbs and in the city center of Paris shows that the model gives satisfactory results for both elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC). However, the model gives a peak of OC concentrations in the morning due to high emissions from traffic, which does not appear in measurements. Uncertainties in the modeled temperature, which can affect the gas-particle partitioning, in the partitioning of primary SVOC or underestimation of primary organic aerosol (POA) evaporation by the model could explain the differences between model and measurements. Moreover, using a theoretical mechanism for the oxidation of primary SVOC and intermediate volatility organic compounds (IVOC), POA concentrations were found to be likely overestimated by models due to the use of simple partitioning constants (which do not take into account the affinity of a compound with the liquid aerosol solution) or due to the assumption that the organic aerosol solution is a one-phase ideal solution. The organic aerosol in the city center of Paris was found to be originating mostly from distant sources with only 30 to 38% due to local sources.

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