Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Research article
11 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 11 Mar 2013

Evaluation of a regional air-quality model with bidirectional NH3 exchange coupled to an agroecosystem model

J. O. Bash, E. J. Cooter, R. L. Dennis, J. T. Walker, and J. E. Pleim

Abstract. Atmospheric ammonia (NH3) is the primary atmospheric base and an important precursor for inorganic particulate matter and when deposited NH3 contributes to surface water eutrophication, soil acidification and decline in species biodiversity. Flux measurements indicate that the air–surface exchange of NH3 is bidirectional. However, the effects of bidirectional exchange, soil biogeochemistry and human activity are not parameterized in air quality models. The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Community Multiscale Air-Quality (CMAQ) model with bidirectional NH3 exchange has been coupled with the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) agroecosystem model. The coupled CMAQ-EPIC model relies on EPIC fertilization timing, rate and composition while CMAQ models the soil ammonium (NH4+) pool by conserving the ammonium mass due to fertilization, evasion, deposition, and nitrification processes. This mechanistically coupled modeling system reduced the biases and error in NHx (NH3 + NH4+) wet deposition and in ambient aerosol concentrations in an annual 2002 Continental US (CONUS) domain simulation when compared to a 2002 annual simulation of CMAQ without bidirectional exchange. Fertilizer emissions estimated in CMAQ 5.0 with bidirectional exchange exhibits markedly different seasonal dynamics than the US EPA's National Emissions Inventory (NEI), with lower emissions in the spring and fall and higher emissions in July.

Final-revised paper