Geophysical Research Letters

Persistent sensitivity of Asian aerosol to emissions of nitrogen oxides


Corresponding author: S. K. Kharol, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 3J5, Canada. (


[1] We use a chemical transport model and its adjoint to examine the sensitivity of secondary inorganic aerosol formation to emissions of precursor trace gases from Asia. Sensitivity simulations indicate that secondary inorganic aerosol mass concentrations are most sensitive to ammonia (NH3) emissions in winter and to sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions during the rest of the year. However, in the annual mean, the perturbations on Asian population-weighted ground-level secondary inorganic aerosol concentrations of 34% due to changing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions are comparable to those from changing either SO2 (41%) or NH3 (25%) emissions. The persistent sensitivity to NOx arises from the regional abundance of NH3 over Asia that promotes ammonium nitrate formation. IASI satellite observations corroborate the NH3 abundance. Projected emissions for 2020 indicate continued sensitivity to NOx emissions. We encourage more attention to NOx controls in addition to SO2 and NH3 controls to reduce ground-level East Asian aerosol.