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A Graph Theoretical Intercomparison of Atmospheric Chemical Mechanisms

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Publication details

JournalGeophysical Research Letters
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Nov 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2020
DatePublished (current) - 11 Jan 2021
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Early online date11/12/20
Original languageEnglish


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.

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© 2020. The Authors.

    Research areas

  • Graph Theory, Atmospheric Chemistry, Chemical Mechanism

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