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  1. 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 »spread across the mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 19, 2023
  2. 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 nowmore »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.« less
  3. Abstract. Biogenic organic precursors play an important role inatmospheric new particle formation (NPF). One of the major precursor speciesis α-pinene, which upon oxidation can form a suite of productscovering a wide range of volatilities. Highly oxygenated organic molecules(HOMs) comprise a fraction of the oxidation products formed. While it isknown that HOMs contribute to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation,including NPF, they have not been well studied in newly formed particles dueto their very low mass concentrations. Here we present gas- and particle-phase chemical composition data from experimental studies of α-pinene oxidation, including in the presence of isoprene, at temperatures(−50 and −30 ∘C) and relativehumidities (20 % and 60 %) relevant in the upper free troposphere. Themeasurements took place at the CERN Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD)chamber. The particle chemical composition was analyzed by a thermaldesorption differential mobility analyzer (TD-DMA) coupled to a nitratechemical ionization–atmospheric pressure interface–time-of-flight(CI-APi-TOF) mass spectrometer. CI-APi-TOF was used for particle- and gas-phase measurements, applying the same ionization and detection scheme. Ourmeasurements revealed the presence of C8−10 monomers and C18−20dimers as the major compounds in the particles (diameter up to∼ 100 nm). Particularly, for the system with isoprene added,C5 (C5H10O5−7) and C15 compounds(C15H24O5−10) were detected. This observation is consistentwith the previously observed formation ofmore »such compounds in the gas phase. However, although the C5 and C15 compounds do not easily nucleate,our measurements indicate that they can still contribute to the particlegrowth at free tropospheric conditions. For the experiments reported here,most likely isoprene oxidation products enhance the growth of particleslarger than 15 nm. Additionally, we report on the nucleation rates measuredat 1.7 nm (J1.7 nm) and compared with previous studies, we found lowerJ1.7 nm values, very likely due to the higher α-pinene andozone mixing ratios used in the present study.« less
  4. Abstract. New particle formation (NPF) is a significant source of atmosphericparticles, affecting climate and air quality. Understanding the mechanismsinvolved in urban aerosols is important to develop effective mitigationstrategies. However, NPF rates reported in the polluted boundary layer spanmore than 4 orders of magnitude, and the reasons behind this variability are the subject of intense scientific debate. Multiple atmospheric vapours have beenpostulated to participate in NPF, including sulfuric acid, ammonia, aminesand organics, but their relative roles remain unclear. We investigated NPFin the CLOUD chamber using mixtures of anthropogenic vapours that simulatepolluted boundary layer conditions. We demonstrate that NPF in pollutedenvironments is largely driven by the formation of sulfuric acid–baseclusters, stabilized by the presence of amines, high ammonia concentrationsand lower temperatures. Aromatic oxidation products, despite their extremelylow volatility, play a minor role in NPF in the chosen urban environment butcan be important for particle growth and hence for the survival of newlyformed particles. Our measurements quantitatively account for NPF in highlydiverse urban environments and explain its large observed variability. Suchquantitative information obtained under controlled laboratory conditionswill help the interpretation of future ambient observations of NPF rates inpolluted atmospheres.
  5. Iodic acid (HIO 3 ) is known to form aerosol particles in coastal marine regions, but predicted nucleation and growth rates are lacking. Using the CERN CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) chamber, we find that the nucleation rates of HIO 3 particles are rapid, even exceeding sulfuric acid–ammonia rates under similar conditions. We also find that ion-induced nucleation involves IO 3 − and the sequential addition of HIO 3 and that it proceeds at the kinetic limit below +10°C. In contrast, neutral nucleation involves the repeated sequential addition of iodous acid (HIO 2 ) followed by HIO 3 , showing that HIO 2 plays a key stabilizing role. Freshly formed particles are composed almost entirely of HIO 3 , which drives rapid particle growth at the kinetic limit. Our measurements indicate that iodine oxoacid particle formation can compete with sulfuric acid in pristine regions of the atmosphere.
  6. Abstract. Nucleation of atmospheric vapours produces more than half of global cloudcondensation nuclei and so has an important influence on climate. Recentstudies show that monoterpene (C10H16) oxidation yieldshighly oxygenated products that can nucleate with or without sulfuric acid.Monoterpenes are emitted mainly by trees, frequently together with isoprene(C5H8), which has the highest global emission of all organicvapours. Previous studies have shown that isoprene suppresses new-particleformation from monoterpenes, but the cause of this suppression is underdebate. Here, in experiments performed under atmospheric conditions in theCERN CLOUD chamber, we show that isoprene reduces the yield ofhighly oxygenated dimers with 19 or 20 carbon atoms – which drive particlenucleation and early growth – while increasing the production of dimers with14 or 15 carbon atoms. The dimers (termed C20 and C15,respectively) are produced by termination reactions between pairs of peroxyradicals (RO2⚫) arising from monoterpenes or isoprene.Compared with pure monoterpene conditions, isoprene reduces nucleation ratesat 1.7 nm (depending on the isoprene ∕ monoterpene ratio) and approximatelyhalves particle growth rates between 1.3 and 3.2 nm. However, above 3.2 nm,C15 dimers contribute to secondary organic aerosol, and the growth ratesare unaffected by isoprene. We further show that increased hydroxyl radical(OH⚫) reduces particle formation in our chemical system ratherthan enhances it as previously proposed,more »since it increases isoprene-derivedRO2⚫ radicals that reduce C20 formation.RO2⚫ termination emerges as the critical step that determinesthe highly oxygenated organic molecule (HOM) distribution and the corresponding nucleation capability. Speciesthat reduce the C20 yield, such as NO, HO2 and as we showisoprene, can thus effectively reduce biogenic nucleation and early growth.Therefore the formation rate of organic aerosol in a particular region ofthe atmosphere under study will vary according to the precise ambientconditions.« less
  7. 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 »of the saturation vapor pressure of each oxidation state as thetemperature is reduced. Overall, the reduction in volatility withtemperature leads to an increase in the nucleation rates by up to 3orders of magnitude at −50 ∘C compared with 25 ∘C. Inaddition, the enhancement of the nucleation rates by ions decreases withdecreasing temperature, since the neutral molecular clusters have increasedstability against evaporation. The resulting data quantify how the interplaybetween the temperature-dependent oxidation pathways and the associatedvapor pressures affect biogenic NPF at the molecularlevel. Our measurements, therefore, improve our understanding of purebiogenic NPF for a wide range of tropospherictemperatures and precursor concentrations.« less
  8. A major fraction of atmospheric aerosol particles, which affect both air quality and climate, form from gaseous precursors in the atmosphere. Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs), formed by oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds, are known to participate in particle formation and growth. However, it is not well understood how they interact with atmospheric pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides (NO x ) and sulfur oxides (SO x ) from fossil fuel combustion, as well as ammonia (NH 3 ) from livestock and fertilizers. Here, we show how NO x suppresses particle formation, while HOMs, sulfuric acid, and NH 3 have a synergistic enhancing effect on particle formation. We postulate a novel mechanism, involving HOMs, sulfuric acid, and ammonia, which is able to closely reproduce observations of particle formation and growth in daytime boreal forest and similar environments. The findings elucidate the complex interactions between biogenic and anthropogenic vapors in the atmospheric aerosol system.