- ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more »
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Abstract New particle formation in the upper free troposphere is a major global source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) 1–4 . However, the precursor vapours that drive the process are not well understood. With experiments performed under upper tropospheric conditions in the CERN CLOUD chamber, we show that nitric acid, sulfuric acid and ammonia form particles synergistically, at rates that are orders of magnitude faster than those from any two of the three components. The importance of this mechanism depends on the availability of ammonia, which was previously thought to be efficiently scavenged by cloud droplets during convection. However, surprisingly high concentrations of ammonia and ammonium nitrate have recently been observed in the upper troposphere over the Asian monsoon region 5,6 . Once particles have formed, co-condensation of ammonia and abundant nitric acid alone is sufficient to drive rapid growth to CCN sizes with only trace sulfate. Moreover, our measurements show that these CCN are also highly efficient ice nucleating particles—comparable to desert dust. Our model simulations confirm that ammonia is efficiently convected aloft during the Asian monsoon, driving rapid, multi-acid HNO 3 –H 2 SO 4 –NH 3 nucleation in the upper troposphere and producing ice nucleating particles thatmore »
Transformation of low-volatility gaseous precursors to new particles affects aerosol number concentration, cloud formation and hence the climate. The clustering of acid and base molecules is a major mechanism driving fast nucleation and initial growth of new particles in the atmosphere. However, the acid–base cluster composition, measured using state-of-the-art mass spectrometers, cannot explain the measured high formation rate of new particles. Here we present strong evidence for the existence of base molecules such as amines in the smallest atmospheric sulfuric acid clusters prior to their detection by mass spectrometers. We demonstrate that forming (H2SO4)1(amine)1 is the rate-limiting step in atmospheric H2SO4-amine nucleation and the uptake of (H2SO4)1(amine)1 is a major pathway for the initial growth of H2SO4 clusters. The proposed mechanism is very consistent with measured new particle formation in urban Beijing, in which dimethylamine is the key base for H2SO4 nucleation while other bases such as ammonia may contribute to the growth of larger clusters. Our findings further underline the fact that strong amines, even at low concentrations and when undetected in the smallest clusters, can be crucial to particle formation in the planetary boundary layer.
Intense new particle formation events are regularly observed under highly polluted conditions, despite the high loss rates of nucleated clusters. Higher than expected cluster survival probability implies either ineffective scavenging by pre-existing particles or missing growth mechanisms. Here we present experiments performed in the CLOUD chamber at CERN showing particle formation from a mixture of anthropogenic vapours, under condensation sinks typical of haze conditions, up to 0.1 s −1 . We find that new particle formation rates substantially decrease at higher concentrations of pre-existing particles, demonstrating experimentally for the first time that molecular clusters are efficiently scavenged by larger sized particles. Additionally, we demonstrate that in the presence of supersaturated gas-phase nitric acid (HNO 3 ) and ammonia (NH 3 ), freshly nucleated particles can grow extremely rapidly, maintaining a high particle number concentration, even in the presence of a high condensation sink. Such high growth rates may explain the high survival probability of freshly formed particles under haze conditions. We identify under what typical urban conditions HNO 3 and NH 3 can be expected to contribute to particle survival during haze.
The Synergistic Role of Sulfuric Acid, Bases, and Oxidized Organics Governing New-Particle Formation in BeijingIntense and frequent new particle formation (NPF) events have been observed in polluted urban environments, yet the dominant mechanisms are still under debate. To understand the key species and governing processes of NPF in polluted urban environments, we conducted comprehensive measurements in downtown Beijing during January–March, 2018. We performed detailed analyses on sulfuric acid cluster composition and budget, as well as the chemical and physical properties of oxidized organic molecules (OOMs). Our results demonstrate that the fast clustering of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and base molecules triggered the NPF events, and OOMs further helped grow the newly formed particles toward climate- and health-relevant sizes. This synergistic role of H2SO4, base species, and OOMs in NPF is likely representative of polluted urban environments where abundant H2SO4 and base species usually co-exist, and OOMs are with moderately low volatility when produced under high NOx concentrations.
Abstract. Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) contributesubstantially to the formation and growth of atmospheric aerosol particles,which affect air quality, human health and Earth's climate. HOMs are formedby rapid, gas-phase autoxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) suchas α-pinene, the most abundant monoterpene in the atmosphere. Due totheir abundance and low volatility, HOMs can play an important role innew-particle formation (NPF) and the early growth of atmospheric aerosols,even without any further assistance of other low-volatility compounds suchas sulfuric acid. Both the autoxidation reaction forming HOMs and theirNPF rates are expected to be strongly dependent ontemperature. However, experimental data on both effects are limited.Dedicated experiments were performed at the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoorDroplets) chamber at CERN to address this question. In this study, we showthat a decrease in temperature (from +25 to −50 ∘C) results ina reduced HOM yield and reduced oxidation state of the products, whereas theNPF rates (J1.7 nm) increase substantially.Measurements with two different chemical ionization mass spectrometers(using nitrate and protonated water as reagent ion, respectively) providethe molecular composition of the gaseous oxidation products, and atwo-dimensional volatility basis set (2D VBS) model provides their volatilitydistribution. The HOM yield decreases with temperature from 6.2 % at 25 ∘C to 0.7 % at −50 ∘C. However, there is a strongreductionmore »