Modeled aerosol nitrate formation pathways during wintertime in the great lakes region of North America

Yoo Jung Kim, Scott N. Spak, Gregory R. Carmichael, Nicole Riemer, Charles O. Stanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Episodic wintertime particle pollution by ammonium nitrate is an important air quality concern across the Midwest U.S. Understanding and accurately forecasting PM2.5 episodes are complicated by multiple pathways for aerosol nitrate formation, each with uncertain rate parameters. Here, the Community Multiscale Air Quality model (CMAQ) simulated regional atmospheric nitrate budgets during the 2009 LADCO Winter Nitrate Study, using integrated process rate (IPR) and integrated reaction rate (IRR) tools to quantify relevant processes. Total nitrate production contributing to PM2.5 episodes is a regional phenomenon, with peak production over the Ohio River Valley and southern Great Lakes. Total nitrate production in the lower troposphere is attributed to three pathways, with 57% from heterogeneous conversion of N2O5, 28% from the reaction of OH and NO2, and 15% from homogeneous conversion of N2O5. TNO3 formation rates varied day-to-day and on synoptic timescales. Rate-limited production does not follow urban-rural gradients and NOx emissions due, to counterbalancing of urban enhancement in daytime HNO3 production with nocturnal reductions. Concentrations of HNO3 and N2O5 and nighttime TNO3 formation rates have maxima aloft (100–500 m), leading to net total nitrate vertical flux during episodes, with substantial vertical gradients in nitrate partitioning. Uncertainties in all three pathways are relevant to wintertime aerosol modeling and highlight the importance of interacting transport and chemistry processes during ammonium nitrate episodes, as well as the need for additional constraint on the system through field and laboratory experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12,420-12,445
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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