Verification of a source-oriented externally mixed air quality model during a severe photochemical smog episode

Qi Ying, Matthew P. Fraser, Robert J. Griffin, Jianjun Chen, Michael J. Kleeman

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38 Scopus citations


The CIT/UCD three-dimensional source-oriented externally mixed air quality model is tested during a severe photochemical smog episode (Los Angeles, 7-9 September 1993) using two different chemical mechanisms that describe the formation of ozone and secondary reaction products. The first chemical mechanism is the secondary organic aerosol mechanism (SOAM) that is based on SAPRC90 with extensions to describe the formation of condensable organic products. The second chemical mechanism is the caltech atmospheric chemistry mechanism (CACM) that is based on SAPRC99 with more detailed treatment of organic oxidation products. The predicted ozone concentrations from the CIT/UCD/SOAM and the CIT/UCD/CACM models agree well with the observations made at most monitoring sites with a mean normalized error of approximately 0.4-0.5. Good agreement is generally found between the predicted and measured NOx concentrations except during morning rush hours of 6-10 am when NOx concentrations are under-predicted at most locations. Total VOC concentrations predicted by the two chemical mechanisms agree reasonably well with the observations at three of the four sites where measurements were made. Gas-phase concentrations of phenolic compounds and benzaldehyde predicted by the UCD/CIT/CACM model are higher than the measured concentrations whereas the predicted concentrations of other aromatic compounds approximately agree with the measured values. The fine airborne particulate matter mass concentrations (PM2.5) predicted by the UCD/CIT/SOAM and UCD/CIT/CACM models are slightly greater than the observed values during evening hours and lower than observed values during morning rush hours. The evening over-predictions are driven by an excess of nitrate, ammonium ion and sulfate. The UCD/CIT/CACM model predicts higher nighttime concentrations of gaseous precursors leading to the formation of particulate nitrate than the UCD/CIT/SOAM model. Elemental carbon and total organic mass are under-predicted by both models during morning rush hour periods. When this latter finding is combined with the NOx under-predictions that occur at the same time, it suggests a systematic bias in the diesel engine emissions inventory. The mass of particulate total organic carbon is under-predicted by both the UCD/CIT/SOAM and UCD/CIT/CACM models during afternoon hours. Elemental carbon concentrations generally agree with the observations at this time. Both the UCD/CIT/SOAM and UCD/CIT/CACM models predict low concentrations of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) (<3.5 μg m-3) indicating that both models could be missing SOA formation pathways. The representation of the aerosol as an internal mixture vs. a source-oriented external mixture did not significantly affect the predicted concentrations during the current study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1521-1538
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • CACM
  • Los Angeles
  • SAPRC90
  • UCD/CIT source-oriented air quality model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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