A Graph Theoretical Intercomparison of Atmospheric Chemical Mechanisms

Sam J. Silva, Susannah M. Burrows, Mathew J. Evans, Mahantesh Halappanavar

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AbstractGraph theoretical methods have revolutionized the exploration of complex systems across scientific disciplines. Here, we demonstrate their applicability to the investigation and comparison of three widely-used atmospheric chemical mechanisms of varying complexity: the Master Chemical Mechanism v3.3, GEOS-Chem v12.6, and the Super-Fast chemical mechanism. We investigate these mechanisms using a class of graphical models known as species-reaction graphs and find similarities between these chemical reaction systems and other systems arising in nature. Several graph theoretical properties are consistent across mechanisms, including strong dynamical system disequilibrium and clustering of chemically-related species. This formalism also reveals key differences between the mechanisms, some of which have characteristics inconsistent with domain knowledge; for example, isoprene and peroxy radical chemistry exhibit substantially different graph properties in each mechanism. Graph theoretical methods provide a promising set of tools for investigating atmospheric chemical mechanisms, complementing existing computational approaches, and potentially opening new avenues for scientific discovery.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL090481
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2020. The Authors.


  • Graph Theory
  • Atmospheric Chemistry
  • Chemical Mechanism

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