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  1. Abstract

    Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) contributes significantly to ambient fine particulate matter that affects climate and human health. Monoterpenes represent an important class of biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and their oxidation by nitrate radicals poses a substantial source of SOA globally. Here, we investigate the formation and properties of SOA from nitrate radical oxidation of two common monoterpenes, α-pinene and limonene. When two monoterpenes are oxidized simultaneously, we observe a ~50% enhancement in the formation of SOA from α-pinene and a ~20% reduction in limonene SOA formation. The change in SOA yields is accompanied by pronounced changes in aerosol chemical composition and volatility. These non-linear effects are not observed in a sequential oxidation experiment. Our results highlight that unlike currently assumed in atmospheric models, the interaction of products formed from individual VOCs should be accounted for to accurately describe SOA formation and its climate and health impacts.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Organic aerosol (OA), with a large biogenic fraction in the summertime southeast US, adversely impacts air quality and human health. Stringent airquality controls have recently reduced anthropogenic pollutants including sulfate, whose impact on OA remains unclear. Three filter measurementnetworks provide long-term constraints on the sensitivity of OA to changes in inorganic species, including sulfate and ammonia. The 2000–2013summertime OA decreases by 1.7 % yr−1–1.9 % yr−1 with little month-to-month variability, while sulfatedeclines rapidly with significant monthly difference in the early 2000s. In contrast, modeled OA from a chemical-transport model (GEOS-Chem) decreasesby 4.9 % yr−1 with much larger monthly variability, largely due to the predominant role of acid-catalyzed reactive uptake ofepoxydiols (IEPOX) onto sulfate. The overestimated modeled OA dependence on sulfate can be improved by implementing a coating effect and assumingconstant aerosol acidity, suggesting the needs to revisit IEPOX reactive uptake in current models. Our work highlights the importance of secondaryOA formation pathways that are weakly dependent on inorganic aerosol in a region that is heavily influenced by both biogenic and anthropogenicemissions. 
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  3. Abstract

    The atmospheric evolution of organic compounds encompasses many thousands of compounds with varying volatility, polarity, and water solubility. The molecular-level chemical composition of this mixture plays a major, yet uncertain, role in its transformations and impacts. Here we perform a non-targeted molecular-level intercomparison of functionalized organic aerosol from three diverse field sites and a chamber. Despite similar bulk composition, we report large molecular-level variability between multi-hour organic aerosol samples at each site, with 66 ± 13% of functionalized compounds differing between consecutive samples. Single precursor environmental laboratory chamber experiments and fully chemically-explicit modeling confirm this variability is due to changes in emitted precursors, chemical age, and/or oxidation conditions. These molecular-level results demonstrate greater compositional variability than is typically observed in less-speciated measurements, such as bulk elemental composition, which tend to show less daily variability. These observations should inform future field and laboratory studies, including assessments of the effects of variability on aerosol properties and ultimately the development of strategic organic aerosol parameterizations for air quality and climate models.

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  4. Abstract. Oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) by the nitrate radical (NO3) represents one of the important interactions between anthropogenic emissions related to combustion and natural emissions from the biosphere. This interaction has been recognized for more than 3 decades, during which time a large body of research has emerged from laboratory, field, and modeling studies. NO3-BVOC reactions influence air quality, climate and visibility through regional and global budgets for reactive nitrogen (particularly organic nitrates), ozone, and organic aerosol. Despite its long history of research and the significance of this topic in atmospheric chemistry, a number of important uncertainties remain. These include an incomplete understanding of the rates, mechanisms, and organic aerosol yields for NO3-BVOC reactions, lack of constraints on the role of heterogeneous oxidative processes associated with the NO3 radical, the difficulty of characterizing the spatial distributions of BVOC and NO3 within the poorly mixed nocturnal atmosphere, and the challenge of constructing appropriate boundary layer schemes and non-photochemical mechanisms for use in state-of-the-art chemical transport and chemistry–climate models.

    This review is the result of a workshop of the same title held at the Georgia Institute of Technology in June 2015. The first half of the review summarizes the current literature on NO3-BVOC chemistry, with a particular focus on recent advances in instrumentation and models, and in organic nitrate and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation chemistry. Building on this current understanding, the second half of the review outlines impacts of NO3-BVOC chemistry on air quality and climate, and suggests critical research needs to better constrain this interaction to improve the predictive capabilities of atmospheric models.

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