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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. Gas-phase oxygenated organic molecules (OOMs) can contribute significantly to both atmospheric new particle growth and secondary organic aerosol formation. Precursor apportionment of atmospheric OOMs connects them with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Since atmospheric OOMs are often highly functionalized products of multistep reactions, it is challenging to reveal the complete mapping relationships between OOMs and their precursors. In this study, we demonstrate that the machine learning method is useful in attributing atmospheric OOMs to their precursors using several chemical indicators, such as O/C ratio and H/C ratio. The model is trained and tested using data acquired in controlled laboratory experiments, covering the oxidation products of four main types of VOCs (isoprene, monoterpenes, aliphatics, and aromatics). Then, the model is used for analyzing atmospheric OOMs measured in both urban Beijing and a boreal forest environment in southern Finland. The results suggest that atmospheric OOMs in these two environments can be reasonably assigned to their precursors. Beijing is an anthropogenic VOC dominated environment with ∼64% aromatic and aliphatic OOMs, and the other boreal forested area has ∼76% monoterpene OOMs. This pilot study shows that machine learning can be a promising tool in atmospheric chemistry for connecting the dots. 
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  3. Abstract The interaction between nitrogen monoxide (NO) and organic peroxy radicals (RO 2 ) greatly impacts the formation of highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOM), the key precursors of secondary organic aerosols. It has been thought that HOM production can be significantly suppressed by NO even at low concentrations. Here, we perform dedicated experiments focusing on HOM formation from monoterpenes at low NO concentrations (0 – 82 pptv). We demonstrate that such low NO can enhance HOM production by modulating the RO 2 loss and favoring the formation of alkoxy radicals that can continue to autoxidize through isomerization. These insights suggest that HOM yields from typical boreal forest emissions can vary between 2.5%-6.5%, and HOM formation will not be completely inhibited even at high NO concentrations. Our findings challenge the notion that NO monotonically reduces HOM yields by extending the knowledge of RO 2 -NO interactions to the low-NO regime. This represents a major advance towards an accurate assessment of HOM budgets, especially in low-NO environments, which prevails in the pre-industrial atmosphere, pristine areas, and the upper boundary layer. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Biogenic vapors form new particles in the atmosphere, affecting global climate. The contributions of monoterpenes and isoprene to new particle formation (NPF) have been extensively studied. However, sesquiterpenes have received little attention despite a potentially important role due to their high molecular weight. Via chamber experiments performed under atmospheric conditions, we report biogenic NPF resulting from the oxidation of pure mixtures of β-caryophyllene, α-pinene, and isoprene, which produces oxygenated compounds over a wide range of volatilities. We find that a class of vapors termed ultralow-volatility organic compounds (ULVOCs) are highly efficient nucleators and quantitatively determine NPF efficiency. When compared with a mixture of isoprene and monoterpene alone, adding only 2% sesquiterpene increases the ULVOC yield and doubles the formation rate. Thus, sesquiterpene emissions need to be included in assessments of global aerosol concentrations in pristine climates where biogenic NPF is expected to be a major source of cloud condensation nuclei.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 8, 2024
  5. Abstract Iodine is a reactive trace element in atmospheric chemistry that destroys ozone and nucleates particles. Iodine emissions have tripled since 1950 and are projected to keep increasing with rising O 3 surface concentrations. Although iodic acid (HIO 3 ) is widespread and forms particles more efficiently than sulfuric acid, its gas-phase formation mechanism remains unresolved. Here, in CLOUD atmospheric simulation chamber experiments that generate iodine radicals at atmospherically relevant rates, we show that iodooxy hypoiodite, IOIO, is efficiently converted into HIO 3 via reactions (R1) IOIO + O 3  → IOIO 4 and (R2) IOIO 4  + H 2 O → HIO 3  + HOI +  (1) O 2 . The laboratory-derived reaction rate coefficients are corroborated by theory and shown to explain field observations of daytime HIO 3 in the remote lower free troposphere. The mechanism provides a missing link between iodine sources and particle formation. Because particulate iodate is readily reduced, recycling iodine back into the gas phase, our results suggest a catalytic role of iodine in aerosol formation. 
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  6. Abstract. Oxygenated organic molecules (OOMs) are the crucial intermediates linkingvolatile organic compounds (VOCs) to secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) in theatmosphere, but comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of OOMsand their formation from VOCs is still missing. Ambient observations ofOOMs using recently developed mass spectrometry techniques are stilllimited, especially in polluted urban atmospheres where VOCs and oxidants areextremely variable and complex. Here, we investigate OOMs, measured by anitrate-ion-based chemical ionization mass spectrometer at Nanjing ineastern China, through performing positive matrix factorization on binnedmass spectra (binPMF). The binPMF analysis reveals three factors aboutanthropogenic VOC (AVOC) daytime chemistry, three isoprene-relatedfactors, three factors about biogenic VOC (BVOC) nighttime chemistry, andthree factors about nitrated phenols. All factors are influenced by NOxin different ways and to different extents. Over 1000 non-nitro moleculeshave been identified and then reconstructed from the selected solution ofbinPMF, and about 72 % of the total signals are contributed bynitrogen-containing OOMs, mostly regarded as organic nitrates formed throughperoxy radicals terminated by nitric oxide or nitrate-radical-initiatedoxidations. Moreover, multi-nitrates account for about 24 % of the totalsignals, indicating the significant presence of multiple generations,especially for isoprene (e.g., C5H10O8N2 andC5H9O10N3). Additionally, the distribution of OOMconcentration on the carbon number confirms their precursors are driven by AVOCsmixed with enhanced BVOCs during summer. Our results highlight the decisiverole of NOx in OOM formation in densely populated areas, and we encouragemore studies on the dramatic interactions between anthropogenic and biogenicemissions. 
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  7. Abstract. During the COVID-19 lockdown, the dramatic reduction of anthropogenicemissions provided a unique opportunity to investigate the effects ofreduced anthropogenic activity and primary emissions on atmospheric chemicalprocesses and the consequent formation of secondary pollutants. Here, weutilize comprehensive observations to examine the response of atmosphericnew particle formation (NPF) to the changes in the atmospheric chemicalcocktail. We find that the main clustering process was unaffected by thedrastically reduced traffic emissions, and the formation rate of 1.5 nmparticles remained unaltered. However, particle survival probability wasenhanced due to an increased particle growth rate (GR) during the lockdownperiod, explaining the enhanced NPF activity in earlier studies. For GR at1.5–3 nm, sulfuric acid (SA) was the main contributor at high temperatures,whilst there were unaccounted contributing vapors at low temperatures. ForGR at 3–7 and 7–15 nm, oxygenated organic molecules (OOMs) played amajor role. Surprisingly, OOM composition and volatility were insensitive tothe large change of atmospheric NOx concentration; instead theassociated high particle growth rates and high OOM concentration during thelockdown period were mostly caused by the enhanced atmospheric oxidativecapacity. Overall, our findings suggest a limited role of traffic emissionsin NPF. 
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  8. Aerosol particles negatively affect human health while also having climatic relevance due to, for example, their ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei. Ultrafine particles (diameter D p < 100 nm) typically comprise the largest fraction of the total number concentration, however, their chemical characterization is difficult because of their low mass. Using an extractive electrospray time-of-flight mass spectrometer (EESI-TOF), we characterize the molecular composition of freshly nucleated particles from naphthalene and β-caryophyllene oxidation products at the CLOUD chamber at CERN. We perform a detailed intercomparison of the organic aerosol chemical composition measured by the EESI-TOF and an iodide adduct chemical ionization mass spectrometer equipped with a filter inlet for gases and aerosols (FIGAERO-I-CIMS). We also use an aerosol growth model based on the condensation of organic vapors to show that the chemical composition measured by the EESI-TOF is consistent with the expected condensed oxidation products. This agreement could be further improved by constraining the EESI-TOF compound-specific sensitivity or considering condensed-phase processes. Our results show that the EESI-TOF can obtain the chemical composition of particles as small as 20 nm in diameter with mass loadings as low as hundreds of ng m −3 in real time. This was until now difficult to achieve, as other online instruments are often limited by size cutoffs, ionization/thermal fragmentation and/or semi-continuous sampling. Using real-time simultaneous gas- and particle-phase data, we discuss the condensation of naphthalene oxidation products on a molecular level. 
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