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Reducing chemical complexity in representation of new-particle formation: evaluation of simplification approaches

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  • Tinja Olenius, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute
  • ,
  • Robert Bergström, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute
  • ,
  • Jakub Kubečka
  • Nanna Myllys, University of Helsinki
  • ,
  • Jonas Elm

Adequate representation of new-particle formation from vapors in aerosol microphysics and atmospheric transport models is essential for providing reliable predictions of ambient particle numbers and for interpretation of observations. Atmospheric particle formation processes involve multiple species, which complicates the derivation and implementation of data and parameterizations to describe the processes. Ideally, the representation of multi-compound mechanisms should be reduced, but remain accurate. Here, we evaluate common approaches to simplify the description of representative multi-compound acid-base chemistries by applying different theoretical molecular cluster data sets, focusing on simplifications (1) in formation rates that are used as input in aerosol process models and large-scale models, and (2) in cluster models that are applied to assess particle formation dynamics and survival to larger sizes. We test the following approaches: assuming non-interactive additive formation pathways, lumping of similar species, and application of quasi-unary approximations. We assess the possible biases of the simplifications for different types of chemistries and propose best practices for reducing the chemical complexity. We demonstrate that simplifications in formation rates are most often justifiable, but the choice of the preferred simplification method depends on the types of species and their similarity. Simplifications in cluster growth dynamics by quasi-unary approaches, on the other hand, are reasonable mainly for strong cluster formation involving very low-evaporating species and at excess concentration of the implicitly treated stabilizing compound.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science: Atmospheres
Pages (from-to)552-567
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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