Modeling NH4NO3 Over the San Joaquin Valley During the 2013 DISCOVER-AQ Campaign

James T. Kelly, Caroline L. Parworth, Qi Zhang, David J. Miller, Kang Sun, Mark Andrew Zondlo, Kirk R. Baker, Armin Wisthaler, John B. Nowak, Sally E. Pusede, Ronald C. Cohen, Andrew J. Weinheimer, Andreas J. Beyersdorf, Gail S. Tonnesen, Jesse O. Bash, Luke C. Valin, James H. Crawford, Alan Fried, James G. Walega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The San Joaquin Valley (SJV) of California experiences high concentrations of particulate matter NH4NO3 during episodes of meteorological stagnation in winter. A rich data set of observations related to NH4NO3 formation was acquired during multiple periods of elevated NH4NO3 during the Deriving Information on Surface Conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality (DISCOVER-AQ) field campaign in SJV in January and February 2013. Here NH4NO3 is simulated during the SJV DISCOVER-AQ study period with the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model, diagnostic model evaluation is performed using the DISCOVER-AQ data set, and integrated reaction rate analysis is used to quantify HNO3 production rates. Simulated NO3 generally agrees well with routine monitoring of 24-hr average NO3 , but comparisons with hourly average NO3 measurements in Fresno revealed differences at higher time resolution. Predictions of gas-particle partitioning of total nitrate (HNO3 + NO3 ) and NHx (NH3 + NH4 +) generally agree well with measurements in Fresno, although partitioning of total nitrate to HNO3 is sometimes overestimated at low relative humidity in afternoon. Gas-particle partitioning results indicate that NH4NO3 formation is limited by HNO3 availability in both the model and ambient. NH3 mixing ratios are underestimated, particularly in areas with large agricultural activity, and additional work on the spatial allocation of NH3 emissions is warranted. During a period of elevated NH4NO3, the model predicted that the OH + NO2 pathway contributed 46% to total HNO3 production in SJV and the N2O5 heterogeneous hydrolysis pathway contributed 54%. The relative importance of the OH + NO2 pathway for HNO3 production is predicted to increase as NOx emissions decrease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4727-4745
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 16 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


  • HNO production
  • SJV
  • aerosol thermodynamics
  • ammonia
  • inorganic aerosol
  • process analysis


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