Improving aerosol simulations: assessing and improving emissions and secondary organic aerosol formation in air quality modeling
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Both long-term and short-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has been shown to increase the rate of respiratory and cardiovascular illness, premature death, and hospital admissions from respiratory causes. It is important to understand what contributes to ambient PM2.5 level to establish effective regulation, and air quality model can provide guidance based on the best scientific understanding available. However, PM2.5 simulations in air quality models have often found performance less than desirable, particularly for organic carbon levels. Here, some of major shortcomings of current air quality model will be addressed and improved by using CMAQ, receptor models, and regression analysis. Detailed source apportionment of PM2.5 performed using the CMAQ-tracer method suggests that wood combustion and mobile sources are the largest sources of PM2.5, followed by meat cooking and industrial processes. Biases in emission estimates are investigated using tracer species, such as organic molecular markers and trace metals that are used in receptor models. Comparison of simulated and observed tracer species shows some consistent discrepancies, which enables us to quantify biases in emissions and improve CMAQ simulations. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is another topic that is investigated. CMAQ studies on organic aerosol usually underestimate organic carbon with larger than a 50% bias. Formation of aged aerosol from multigenerational semi-volatile organic carbon is added to CMAQ, significantly improving performance of organic aerosol simulations.