Factors Controlling Variability in the Oxidative Capacity of the Troposphere on Interannual to Interglacial Time Scales

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Factors Controlling Variability in the Oxidative Capacity of the Troposphere on Interannual to Interglacial Time Scales

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Title: Factors Controlling Variability in the Oxidative Capacity of the Troposphere on Interannual to Interglacial Time Scales
Author: Murray, Lee Thomas
Citation: Murray, Lee Thomas. 2013. Factors Controlling Variability in the Oxidative Capacity of the Troposphere on Interannual to Interglacial Time Scales. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This thesis explores the natural forces controlling variability of the tropospheric oxidants on interannual to glacial-interglacial time scales. The oxidants (primarily OH and ozone) determine the lifetime of many trace gases of human interest, including air pollutants and long-lived greenhouse gases such as methane. The oxidants respond to meteorological conditions, precursor emissions (natural and anthropogenic), and surface and overhead stratospheric boundary conditions, all of which have changed since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ~21ka). This dissertation first examines in mechanistic detail the effect of variability in the lightning source of nitrogen oxides \((NO_x)\) precursors on interannual variability (IAV) of the oxidants in the recent past. An optimized technique is presented to constrain the lightning \(NO_x\) source in the GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model (CTM) to time-varying satellite data from the Lightning Imaging Sensor. This constraint improves the ability of the CTM to reproduce observed IAV in 9-year (1998-2006) hindcasts of tropical ozone and OH. IAV in ozone and OH is more sensitive to lightning than to biomass burning, despite greater IAV in \(NO_x\) from the latter source. The sensitivity of OH to lightning reflects positive chemical feedbacks on ozone production, \(HO_x\) recycling, and loss frequencies. This dissertation next introduces an offline-coupled climate-biosphere-chemistry framework for determining oxidant levels at and since the LGM. Detailed simulations of tropospheric composition are performed by GEOS-Chem driven by meteorological fields from the GISS ModelE general circulation model, land cover from the BIOME4-TG global terrestrial equilibrium vegetation model, and fire emissions from the LMfire model. Time slice simulations are presented for the present day, preindustrial, and two different possible representations of the LGM climate. Sensitivity of the results to uncertainty in lightning and biomass burning emissions is tested. Though well-buffered, all simulations find net reduced oxidative capacities relative to the present day. The most important parameters for controlling tropospheric oxidants over glacial-interglacial periods are changes in overhead ozone, tropospheric \(H_2O\), and lightning. The results are discussed in the context of the ice-core record, particularly for methane.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10974705
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