Aerosols from Fires: An Examination of the Effects on Ozone Photochemistry in the Western United States
This study presents a first attempt to investigate the roles of fire aerosols in ozone (O3) photochemistry using an online coupled meteorology-chemistry model, the Weather Research and Foresting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem). Four 1-month WRF-Chem simulations for August 2007, with and without fire emissions, were carried out to assess the sensitivity of O3 predictions to the emissions and subsequent radiative feedbacks associated with large-scale fires in the Western United States (U.S.). Results show that decreases in planetary boundary layer height (PBLH) resulting from the radiative effects of fire aerosols and increases in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the fires tend to increase modeled O3 concentrations near the source. Reductions in downward shortwave radiation reaching the surface and surface temperature due to fire aerosols cause decreases in biogenic isoprene emissions and J(NO2) photolysis rates, resulting in reductions in O3 concentrations by as much as 15%. Thus, the results presented in this study imply that considering the radiative effects of fire aerosols may reduce O3 overestimation by traditional photochemical models that do not consider fire-induced changes in meteorology; implementation of coupled meteorology-chemistry models are required to simulate the atmospheric chemistry impacted by large-scale fires.