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1Molina Center for Energy and the Environment, La Jolla, CA, USA
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
3National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
Abstract. In the present study, the impact of aerosols on the photochemistry in Mexico City is evaluated using the WRF-CHEM model for the period from 24 to 29 March during the MCMA-2006/MILAGRO campaign. An aerosol radiative module has been developed with detailed consideration of aerosol size, composition, and mixing. The module has been coupled into the WRF-CHEM model to calculate the aerosol optical properties, including optical depth, single scattering albedo, and asymmetry factor. Calculated aerosol optical properties are in good agreement with the surface observations and aircraft and satellite measurements during daytime. In general, the photolysis rates are reduced due to the absorption by carbonaceous aerosols, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon hours with a long aerosol optical path. However, with the growth of aerosol particles and the decrease of the solar zenith angle around noontime, aerosols can slightly enhance photolysis rates when ultraviolet (UV) radiation scattering dominates UV absorption by aerosols at the lower-most model layer. The changes in photolysis rates due to aerosols lead to about 2–17 % surface ozone reduction during daytime in the urban area in Mexico City with generally larger reductions during early morning hours near the city center, resulting in a decrease of OH level by about 9 %, as well as a decrease in the daytime concentrations of nitrate and secondary organic aerosols by 5–6 % on average. In addition, the rapid aging of black carbon aerosols and the enhanced absorption of UV radiation by organic aerosols contribute substantially to the reduction of photolysis rates.