Atmospheric processing of iron in mineral and combustion aerosols: development of an intermediate-complexity mechanism suitable for Earth system models

Rachel A. Scanza, Douglas S. Hamilton, Carlos Perez Garcia-Pando, Clifton Buck, Alex Baker, Natalie M. Mahowald

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Atmospheric processing of iron in dust and combustion aerosols is simulated using an intermediate-complexity soluble iron mechanism designed for Earth system models. The solubilization mechanism includes both a dependence on aerosol water pH and in-cloud oxalic acid. The simulations of size-resolved total, soluble and fractional iron solubility indicate that this mechanism captures many but not all of the features seen from cruise observations of labile iron. The primary objective was to determine the extent to which our solubility scheme could adequately match observations of fractional iron solubility. We define a semi-quantitative metric as the model mean at points with observations divided by the observational mean (MMO). The model is in reasonable agreement with observations of fractional iron solubility with an MMO of 0.86. Several sensitivity studies are performed to ascertain the degree of complexity needed to match observations; including the oxalic acid enhancement is necessary, while different parameterizations for calculating model oxalate concentrations are less important. The percent change in soluble iron deposition between the reference case (REF) and the simulation with acidic processing alone is 63.8%, which is consistent with previous studies. Upon deposition to global oceans, global mean combustion iron solubility to total fractional iron solubility is 8.2%; however, the contribution of fractional iron solubility from combustion sources to ocean basins below 15°S is approximately 50%. We conclude that, in many remote ocean regions, sources of iron from combustion and dust aerosols are equally important. Our estimates of changes in deposition of soluble iron to the ocean since preindustrial climate conditions suggest roughly a doubling due to a combination of higher dust and combustion iron emissions along with more efficient atmospheric processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14175-14196
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2018

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