Estimating Submicron Aerosol Mixing State at the Global Scale With Machine Learning and Earth System Modeling

Zhonghua Zheng, Jeffrey H. Curtis, Yu Yao, Jessica T. Gasparik, Valentine G. Anantharaj, Lei Zhao, Matthew West, Nicole Riemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study integrates machine learning and particle-resolved aerosol simulations to develop emulators that predict submicron aerosol mixing state indices from the Earth system model (ESM) simulations. The emulators predict aerosol mixing state using only quantities that are predicted by the ESM, including bulk aerosol species concentrations, which do not by themselves carry mixing state information. We used PartMC-MOSAIC as the particle-resolved model and NCAR's CESM as the ESM. We trained emulators for three different mixing state indices for submicron aerosol in terms of chemical species abundance (χa), the mixing of optically absorbing and nonabsorbing species (χo), and the mixing of hygroscopic and nonhygroscopic species (χh). Our global mixing state maps show considerable spatial and seasonal variability unique to each mixing state index. Seasonal averages varied spatially between 13% and 94% for χa, between 38% and 94% for χo, and between 20% and 87% for χh with global annual averages of 67%, 68%, and 56%, respectively. High values in one index can be consistent with low values in another index depending on the grouping of species and their relative abundance, meaning that each mixing state index captures different aspects of the population mixing state. Although a direct validation with observational data has not been possible yet, our results are consistent with mixing state index values derived from ambient observations. This work is a prototypical example of using machine learning emulators to add information to ESM simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020EA001500
JournalEarth and Space Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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