U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Review of Recent Advances in Understanding Secondary Organic Aerosols for Earth System Modeling
Published: June 15, 2017
Posted: July 14, 2017

Researchers review recent findings on secondary organic aerosols and the impact on radiative forcing in global models.

The Science
This work, led by Department of Energy (DOE) scientists with numerous national and international collaborators from universities and national laboratories, highlights several advances in understanding the processes and properties of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) in the last decade. SOA are complex aerosol systems, formed in the atmosphere through many diverse nonlinear processes. These processes can be synergistic or act to compensate each other, leading to predictive uncertainty. Holistically including them in climate models is important, since SOA aerosols impact both aerosol radiative forcing and current understanding of Earth system sensitivity to greenhouse gases.

The Impact
This review emphasizes the most influential processes that govern the chemical and dynamic evolution of SOA mass and number concentrations in Earth system models, focusing on those that are not yet incorporated in atmospheric chemistry-climate models. Properly addressing these processes could impact the understanding of aerosol climate forcing.

Summary
The manuscript is based on a workshop, “New Strategies for Addressing Anthropogenic-Biogenic Interactions of Organic Aerosol in Climate Models,” supported by DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research Atmospheric System Research program within the Office of Science. The workshop was held at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on June 8-9, 2015. The researchers summarized some of the important developments during the past decade in understanding of SOA formation. They highlighted the importance of several processes that influence the growth of SOA particles to sizes relevant for clouds and radiative forcing, including (1) formation of extremely low-volatility organics in the gas phase, (2) acid-catalyzed multiphase chemistry of isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX), (3) particle-phase oligomerization, and (4) physical properties such as volatility and viscosity. Several SOA processes highlighted in this review are complex and interdependent and have nonlinear effects on SOA properties, formation, and evolution. Current global models neglect this complexity and nonlinearity, and thus are less likely to accurately predict Earth system forcing of SOA. The workshop also emphasized the need to rank the most influential processes and nonlinear process-related interactions, so that these processes can be accurately represented in atmospheric chemistry-Earth system models.

Contacts (BER PM)
Ashley Williamson and Shaima Nasiri
Atmospheric System Research Program
Ashley.Williamson@science.doe.gov and Shaima.Nasiri@science.doe.gov

Dorothy Koch
Earth System Modeling Program
Dorothy.Koch@science.doe.gov

(PI Contact)
Manish Shrivastava
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
ManishKumar.Shrivastava@pnnl.gov

Funding
This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Atmospheric System Research and Earth System Modeling programs. Christopher D. Cappa was supported by the National Science Foundation.


Publication
Shrivastava, M., et al. 2017. “Recent Advances in Understanding Secondary Organic Aerosol: Implications for Global Climate Forcing,” Reviews of Geophysics 55(2), 509-59. DOI: 10.1002/2016RG000540. (Reference link)

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)