Photochemical evolution of the 2013 California Rim Fire: synergistic impacts of...

Wolfe, G. M., T. F. Hanisco, H. Arkinson, D. R. Blake, A. Wisthaler, T. Mikoviny, T. B. Ryerson, I. B. Pollack, J. Peischl, P. Wennberg, J. D. Crounse, J. M. St. Clair, A. Teng, L. G. Huey, X. Liu, A. Fried, P. Weibring, D. Richter, J. G. Walega, S. R. Hall, K. Ullmann, J. Jimenez-Palacios, Campuzano Jost, T. P. Bui, G. S. Diskin, J. Podolske, G. Sachse, and R. C. Cohen (2022), Photochemical evolution of the 2013 California Rim Fire: synergistic impacts of reactive hydrocarbons and enhanced oxidants, Atmos. Chem. Phys., doi:10.5194/acp-22-4253-2022.

Large wildfires influence regional atmospheric composition, but chemical complexity challenges model predictions of downwind impacts. Here, we elucidate key connections within gas-phase photochemistry and assess novel chemical processes via a case study of the 2013 California Rim Fire plume. Airborne in situ observations, acquired during the NASA Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) mission, illustrate the evolution of volatile organic compounds
(VOCs), oxidants, and reactive nitrogen over 12 h of atmospheric aging. Measurements show rapid formation of ozone and peroxyacyl nitrates (PNs), sustained peroxide production, and prolonged enhancements in oxygenated VOCs and nitrogen oxides (NOx ).
Observations and Lagrangian trajectories constrain a 0-D puff model that approximates plume photochemical history and provides a framework for evaluating process interactions. Simulations examine the effects of (1) previously unmeasured reactive VOCs identified in recent laboratory studies and (2) emissions and secondary production of nitrous acid (HONO). Inclusion of estimated unmeasured VOCs leads to a 250% increase in OH reactivity and a 70% increase in radical production via oxygenated VOC photolysis. HONO amplifies
radical cycling and serves as a downwind NOx source, although impacts depend on how HONO is introduced. The addition of initial HONO (representing primary emissions) or particulate nitrate photolysis amplifies ozone production, while heterogeneous conversion of NO2 suppresses ozone formation. Analysis of radical initiation rates suggests that oxygenated VOC photolysis is a major radical source, exceeding HONO photolysis when averaged over the first 2 h of aging. Ozone production chemistry transitions from VOC sensitive to NOx sensitive within the first hour of plume aging, with both peroxide and organic nitrate formation contributing significantly to radical termination. To simulate smoke plume chemistry accurately, models should simultaneously account
for the full reactive VOC pool and all relevant oxidant sources.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)