Science Inventory

Diagnostic Air Quality Model Evaluation of Source-Specific Primary and Secondary Fine Particulate Carbon


Napelenok, S., H. Simon, P. Bhave, H. Pye, G. Pouliot, R. Sheesley, AND J. Schauer. Diagnostic Air Quality Model Evaluation of Source-Specific Primary and Secondary Fine Particulate Carbon. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 48(1):464-473, (2014).


The National Exposure Research Laboratory’s Atmospheric Modeling Division (AMAD) conducts research in support of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. AMAD’s research program is engaged in developing and evaluating predictive atmospheric models on all spatial and temporal scales for forecasting the Nation’s air quality and for assessing changes in air quality and air pollutant exposures, as affected by changes in ecosystem management and regulatory decisions. AMAD is responsible for providing a sound scientific and technical basis for regulatory policies based on air quality models to improve ambient air quality. The models developed by AMAD are being used by EPA, NOAA, and the air pollution community in understanding and forecasting not only the magnitude of the air pollution problem, but also in developing emission control policies and regulations for air quality improvements.


Ambient measurements of 78 source-specific tracers of primary and secondary carbonaceous fine particulate matter collected at four midwestern United States locations over a full year (March 2004–February 2005) provided an unprecedented opportunity to diagnostically evaluate the results of a numerical air quality model. Previous analyses of these measurements demonstrated excellent mass closure for the variety of contributing sources. In this study, a carbon-apportionment version of the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model was used to track primary organic and elemental carbon emissions from 15 independent sources such as mobile sources and biomass burning in addition to four precursor-specific classes of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) originating from isoprene, terpenes, aromatics, and sesquiterpenes. Conversion of the source-resolved model output into organic tracer concentrations yielded a total of 2416 data pairs for comparison with observations. While emission source contributions to the total model bias varied by season and measurement location, the largest absolute bias of −0.55 μgC/m3 was attributed to insufficient isoprene SOA in the summertime CMAQ simulation. Biomass combustion was responsible for the second largest summertime model bias (−0.46 μgC/m3 on average). Several instances of compensating errors were also evident; model underpredictions in some sectors were masked by overpredictions in others.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 11/18/2014
Record Last Revised: 12/31/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 310735