Sea salt emission, transport and influence on size-segregated nitrate simulation: A case study in northwestern Europe by WRF-Chem

Ying Chen*, Yafang Cheng, Nan Ma, Ralf Wolke, Stephan Nordmann, Stephanie Schüttauf, Liang Ran, Birgit Wehner, Wolfram Birmili, Hugo A.C.Denier Van Der Gon, Qing Mu, Stefan Barthel, Gerald Spindler, Bastian Stieger, Konrad Müller, Guang Jie Zheng, Ulrich Pöschl, Hang Su, Alfred Wiedensohler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Sea salt aerosol (SSA) is one of the major components of primary aerosols and has significant impact on the formation of secondary inorganic particles mass on a global scale. In this study, the fully online coupled WRFChem model was utilized to evaluate the SSA emission scheme and its influence on the nitrate simulation in a case study in Europe during 10-20 September 2013. Meteorological conditions near the surface, wind pattern and thermal stratification structure were well reproduced by the model. Nonetheless, the coarse-mode (PM1-10) particle mass concentration was substantially overestimated due to the overestimation of SSA and nitrate. Compared to filter measurements at four EMEP stations (coastal stations: Bilthoven, Kollumerwaard and Vredepeel; inland station: Melpitz), the model overestimated SSA concentrations by a factor of 8-20. We found that this overestimation was mainly caused by overestimated SSA emissions over the North Sea during 16-20 September. Over the coastal regions, SSA was injected into the continental free troposphere through an "aloft bridge" (about 500 to 1000m above the ground), a result of the different thermodynamic properties and planetary boundary layer (PBL) structure between continental and marine regions. The injected SSA was further transported inland and mixed downward to the surface through downdraft and PBL turbulence. This process extended the influence of SSA to a larger downwind region, leading, for example, to an overestimation of SSA at Melpitz, Germany, by a factor of ∼20. As a result, the nitrate partitioning fraction (ratio between particulate nitrate and the summation of particulate nitrate and gas-phase nitric acid) increased by about 20%for the coarsemode nitrate due to the overestimation of SSA at Melpitz. However, no significant difference in the partitioning fraction for the fine-mode nitrate was found. About 140% overestimation of the coarse-mode nitrate resulted from the influence of SSA at Melpitz. In contrast, the overestimation of SSA inhibited the nitrate particle formation in the fine mode by about 20% because of the increased consumption of precursor by coarse-mode nitrate formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12081-12097
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


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