Bromine radicals influence global tropospheric chemistry by depleting ozone and by oxidizing elemental mercury and reduced sulfur species. Observations typically indicate a 50 % depletion of sea salt aerosol (SSA) bromide relative to seawater composition, implying that SSA debromination could be the dominant global source of tropospheric bromine. However, it has been difficult to reconcile this large source with the relatively low bromine monoxide (BrO) mixing ratios observed in the marine boundary layer (MBL). Here we present a new mechanistic description of SSA debromination in the GEOS-Chem global atmospheric chemistry model with a detailed representation of halogen (Cl, Br, and I) chemistry. We show that observed levels of SSA debromination can be reproduced in a manner consistent with observed BrO mixing ratios. Bromine radical sinks from the HOBr + S(IV) heterogeneous reactions and from ocean emission of acetaldehyde are critical in moderating tropospheric BrO levels. The resulting HBr is rapidly taken up by SSA and also deposited. Observations of SSA debromination at southern midlatitudes in summer suggest that model uptake of HBr by SSA may be too fast. The model provides a successful simulation of free-tropospheric BrO in the tropics and midlatitudes in summer, where the bromine radical sink from the HOBr + S(IV) reactions is compensated for by more efficient HOBr-driven recycling in clouds compared to previous GEOS-Chem versions. Simulated BrO in the MBL is generally much higher in winter than in summer due to a combination of greater SSA emission and slower conversion of bromine radicals to HBr. An outstanding issue in the model is the overestimate of free-tropospheric BrO in extratropical winter-spring, possibly reflecting an overestimate of the HOBr/HBr ratio under these conditions where the dominant HOBr source is hydrolysis of BrNO3.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science