Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Development and technical paper
21 Feb 2012
Development and technical paper |  | 21 Feb 2012

Identifying the causes of differences in ozone production from the CB05 and CBMIV chemical mechanisms

R. D. Saylor and A. F. Stein

Abstract. An investigation was conducted to identify the mechanistic differences between two versions of the carbon bond gas-phase chemical mechanism (CB05 and CBMIV) which consistently lead to larger ground-level ozone concentrations being produced in the CB05 version of the National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC) modeling system even though the two parallel forecast systems utilize the same meteorology and base emissions and similar initial and boundary conditions. Box models of each of the mechanisms as they are implemented in the NAQFC were created and a set of 12 sensitivity simulations was designed. The sensitivity simulations independently probed the conceptual mechanistic differences between CB05 and CBMIV and were exercised over a 45-scenario simulation suite designed to emulate the wide range of chemical regimes encountered in a continental-scale atmospheric chemistry model. Results of the sensitivity simulations indicate that two sets of reactions that were included in the CB05 mechanism, but which were absent from the CBMIV mechanism, are the primary causes of the greater ozone production in the CB05 version of the NAQFC. One set of reactions recycles the higher organic peroxide species of CB05 (ROOH), resulting in additional photochemically reactive products that act to produce additional ozone in some chemical regimes. The other set of reactions recycles reactive nitrogen from less reactive forms back to NO2, increasing the effective NOx concentration of the system. In particular, the organic nitrate species (NTR), which was a terminal product for reactive nitrogen in the CBMIV mechanism, acts as a reservoir species in CB05 to redistribute NOx from major source areas to potentially NOx-sensitive areas where additional ozone may be produced in areas remote from direct NOx sources.