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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 1737–1758, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 1737–1758, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 16 Feb 2012

Research article | 16 Feb 2012

Impact of lightning-NO on eastern United States photochemistry during the summer of 2006 as determined using the CMAQ model

D. J. Allen1, K. E. Pickering2, R. W. Pinder3, B. H. Henderson4, K. W. Appel3, and A. Prados5 D. J. Allen et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
  • 2Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, Code 614 NASA-Goddard, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 3Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, US EPA, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA
  • 4University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  • 5Joint Center for Earth Sciences Technology (JCET), University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, USA

Abstract. A lightning-nitrogen oxide (NO) algorithm is implemented in the Community Multiscale Air Quality Model (CMAQ) and used to evaluate the impact of lightning-NO emissions (LNOx) on tropospheric photochemistry over the United States during the summer of 2006.

For a 500 mole per flash lightning-NO source, the mean summertime tropospheric NO2 column agrees with satellite-retrieved columns to within −5 to +13%. Temporal fluctuations in the column are moderately well simulated; however, the addition of LNOx does not lead to a better simulation of day-to-day variability. The contribution of lightning-NO to the model column ranges from ∼10% in the northern US to >45% in the south-central and southeastern US. Lightning-NO adds up to 20 ppbv to upper tropospheric model ozone and 1.5–4.5 ppbv to 8-h maximum surface layer ozone, although, on average, the contribution of LNOx to model surface ozone is 1–2 ppbv less on poor air quality days. LNOx increases wet deposition of oxidized nitrogen by 43% and total deposition of nitrogen by 10%. This additional deposition reduces the mean magnitude of the CMAQ low-bias in nitrate wet deposition with respect to National Atmospheric Deposition monitors to near zero.

Differences in urban/rural biases between model and satellite-retrieved NO2 columns were examined to identify possible problems in model chemistry and/or transport. CMAQ columns were too large over urban areas. Biases at other locations were minor after accounting for the impacts of lightning-NO emissions and the averaging kernel on model columns.

In order to obtain an upper bound on the contribution of uncertainties in NOy chemistry to upper tropospheric NOx low biases, sensitivity calculations with updated chemistry were run for the time period of the Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment (INTEX-A) field campaign (summer 2004). After adjusting for possible interferences in NO2 measurements and averaging over the entire campaign, these updates reduced 7–9 km biases from 32 to 17% and 9–12 km biases from 57 to 46%. While these changes lead to better agreement, a considerable unexplained NO2 low-bias remains in the uppermost troposphere.

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