Moment-based simulation of microphysical properties of sulfate aerosols in the eastern United States: Model description, evaluation, and regional analysis

Shaocai Yu, Prasad S. Kasibhatla, Douglas L. Wright, Stephen E. Schwartz, Robert McGraw, Aijun Deng

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27 Scopus citations


A six-moment microphysics module for sulfate aerosols based on the quadrature method of moments has been incorporated in a host 3-D regional model, the Multiscale Air Quality Simulation Platform. Model performance was examined and evaluated by comparison with in situ observations over the eastern United States for a 40-day period from 19 July to 28 August 1995. The model generally reproduces the spatial patterns (sulfate mixing ratios and wet deposition) over the eastern United States and time series variations of sulfate mass concentrations. The model successfully captured the observed size distribution in the accumulation mode (radius 0.1-0.5 μm), in which the sulfate is predominately located, while underestimating the nucleation and coarse modes on the basis of the size distributions retrieved from the modeled six moments at the Great Smoky Mountains (GSM). This is consistent with better model performance on the effective radius (ratio of third to second moment, important for light scattering) than on number-mean and mass-mean radii. However, the model did not predict some of the moments well, especially the higher moments and during the dust events. Aerosol components other than sulfate such as dust and organics appear to have contributed substantially to the observed aerosol loading at GSM. The model underpredicted sulfate mixing ratios by 13% with about 50% of observations simulated to within a factor of 2. One of the reasons for this underestimation may be overprediction of sulfate wet deposition. Sulfate mass concentrations and number concentrations were high in the source-rich Ohio River valley, but number concentrations were also high over the mid-Atlantic coast (New Jersey area). Most (77%) sulfate amount was below 2.6 km, whereas most sulfate number (>52%) was above 2.6 km except over Ohio River valley (41%). These results demonstrate the accuracy, utility, practicality, and efficiency of moment-based methods for representing aerosol microphysical processes in large-scale chemical transport models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)AAC 4-1 - AAC 4-25
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 27 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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