Estimating Chemical Errors in Large-scale Simulations of Aircraft Emissions

Abstract

Calculations of a relatively comprehensive chemical reaction mechanism applied to individual parcels of aircraft emissions under upper tropospheric conditions show that over a typical residence time of air in the upper troposphere, each aircraft-emitted NOx molecule produces about 2-3 molecules of O3 per day as long as the reactive NOy remains in the upper troposphere. In the upper tropospheric environment characterized by low ambient turbulence and appreciable vertical wind shear, aircraft plumes grow slowly during initial stages, and take several days to diffuse to a size comparable to the grid volume used by global-scale Eulerian models. by assuming aircraft emissions are immediately diluted into a larger grid cell volume, larger-scale models will overestimated the calculated O3 production by 20 to 30%. This overestimate depends on the vertical diffusion efficiency, vertical wind shear, and NOx concentrations in the ambient environment. This overestimate can be compensated for in larger scale models by reducing the reaction coefficient of the NO + HO2 reaction by less than 3% under typical upper tropospheric conditions.

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