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A global model of natural volatile organic compound emissions


  • Alex Guenther,

  • C. Nicholas Hewitt,

  • David Erickson,

  • Ray Fall,

  • Chris Geron,

  • Tom Graedel,

  • Peter Harley,

  • Lee Klinger,

  • Manuel Lerdau,

  • W. A. Mckay,

  • Tom Pierce,

  • Bob Scholes,

  • Rainer Steinbrecher,

  • Raja Tallamraju,

  • John Taylor,

  • Pat Zimmerman


Numerical assessments of global air quality and potential changes in atmospheric chemical constituents require estimates of the surface fluxes of a variety of trace gas species. We have developed a global model to estimate emissions of volatile organic compounds from natural sources (NVOC). Methane is not considered here and has been reviewed in detail elsewhere. The model has a highly resolved spatial grid (0.5°×0.5° latitude/longitude) and generates hourly average emission estimates. Chemical species are grouped into four categories: isoprene, monoterpenes, other reactive VOC (ORVOC), and other VOC (OVOC). NVOC emissions from oceans are estimated as a function of geophysical variables from a general circulation model and ocean color satellite data. Emissions from plant foliage are estimated from ecosystem specific biomass and emission factors and algorithms describing light and temperature dependence of NVOC emissions. Foliar density estimates are based on climatic variables and satellite data. Temporal variations in the model are driven by monthly estimates of biomass and temperature and hourly light estimates. The annual global VOC flux is estimated to be 1150 Tg C, composed of 44% isoprene, 11% monoterpenes, 22.5% other reactive VOC, and 22.5% other VOC. Large uncertainties exist for each of these estimates and particularly for compounds other than isoprene and monoterpenes. Tropical woodlands (rain forest, seasonal, drought-deciduous, and savanna) contribute about half of all global natural VOC emissions. Croplands, shrublands and other woodlands contribute 10–20% apiece. Isoprene emissions calculated for temperate regions are as much as a factor of 5 higher than previous estimates.

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