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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 7 | Copyright
Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 2609-2632, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Development and technical paper 06 Jul 2018

Development and technical paper | 06 Jul 2018

GEM-MACH-PAH (rev2488): a new high-resolution chemical transport model for North American polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and benzene

Cynthia H. Whaley1,2, Elisabeth Galarneau1, Paul A. Makar1, Ayodeji Akingunola1, Wanmin Gong1, Sylvie Gravel1, Michael D. Moran1, Craig Stroud1, Junhua Zhang1, and Qiong Zheng1 Cynthia H. Whaley et al.
  • 1Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON, M3H 5T4, Canada
  • 2Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON, M3H 5T4, Canada

Abstract. Environment and Climate Change Canada's online air quality forecasting model, GEM-MACH, was extended to simulate atmospheric concentrations of benzene and seven polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benz(a)anthracene, chrysene, and benzo(a)pyrene. In the expanded model, benzene and PAHs are emitted from major point, area, and mobile sources, with emissions based on recent emission factors. Modelled PAHs undergo gas–particle partitioning (whereas benzene is only in the gas phase), atmospheric transport, oxidation, cloud processing, and dry and wet deposition. To represent PAH gas–particle partitioning, the Dachs–Eisenreich scheme was used, and we have improved gas–particle partitioning parameters based on an empirical analysis to get significantly better gas–particle partitioning results than the previous North American PAH model, AURAMS-PAH. Added process parametrizations include the particle phase benzo(a)pyrene reaction with ozone via the Kwamena scheme and gas-phase scavenging of PAHs by snow via vapour sorption to the snow surface.

The resulting GEM-MACH-PAH model was used to generate the first online model simulations of PAH emissions, transport, chemical transformation, and deposition for a high-resolution domain (2.5km grid cell spacing) in North America, centred on the PAH data-rich region of southern Ontario, Canada and the northeastern US. Model output for two seasons was compared to measurements from three monitoring networks spanning Canada and the US Average spring–summertime model results were found to be statistically unbiased from measurements of benzene and all seven PAHs. The same was true for the fall–winter seasonal mean, except for benzo(a)pyrene, which had a statistically significant positive bias. We present evidence that the benzo(a)pyrene results may be ameliorated via further improvements to particulate matter and oxidant processes and transport. Our analysis focused on four key components to the prediction of atmospheric PAH levels: spatial variability, sensitivity to mobile emissions, gas–particle partitioning, and wet deposition. Spatial variability of PAHsPM2.5 at a 2.5km resolution was found to be comparable to measurements. Predicted ambient surface concentrations of benzene and the PAHs were found to be critically dependent on mobile emission factors, indicating the mobile emissions sector has a significant influence on ambient PAH levels in the study region. PAH wet deposition was overestimated due to additive precipitation biases in the model and the measurements. Our overall performance evaluation suggests that GEM-MACH-PAH can provide seasonal estimates for benzene and PAHs and is suitable for emissions scenario simulations.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We present a new, high-resolution, North American model of PAHs and benzene, which are toxic air pollutants that cause a variety of negative health impacts. Our simulation in a densely populated region of Canada and the U.S. shows that the model is improved over a previous model. The new model is particularly refined regarding the gas–particle partitioning of these pollutants, which has impacts on deposition and inhalation. The simulation was sensitive to the selection of vehicle emissions.
We present a new, high-resolution, North American model of PAHs and benzene, which are toxic air...