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 »
This content will become publicly available on May 19, 2023
Survival of newly formed particles in haze conditions
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.
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- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Environmental Science: Atmospheres
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 491 to 499
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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