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  1. Terrestrial volcanism is known to emit mercury (Hg) into the atmosphere. However, despite many years of investigation, its net impact on the atmospheric Hg budget remains insufficiently constrained, in part because the transformations of Hg in volcanic plumes as they age and mix with background air are poorly understood. Here we report the observation of complete gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) depletion events in dilute and moderately aged (∼3–7 hours) volcanic plumes from Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island. While it has been suggested that co-emitted bromine could, once photochemically activated, deplete GEM in a volcanic plume, we measured low bromine concentrations in both the gas- and particle-phase and observed complete GEM depletion even before sunrise, ruling out a leading role of bromine chemistry here. Instead, we hypothesize that the GEM depletions were mainly caused by gas–particle interactions with sulfate-rich volcanic particles (mostly of submicron size), abundantly present in the dilute plume. We consider heterogeneous GEM oxidation and GEM uptake by particles as plausible manifestations of such a process and derive empirical rate constants. By extrapolation, we estimate that volcanic aerosols may scavenge 210 Mg y−1 (67–480 Mg y−1) of Hg from the atmosphere globally, acting effectively as atmospheric mercury sink. While this estimate is subject to large uncertainties, it highlights that Hg transformations in aging volcanic plumes must be better understood to determine the net impact of volcanism on the atmospheric Hg budget and Hg deposition pathways. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 12, 2024
  2. Abstract. Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) from α-pinene ozonolysis have been shown to be significant contributors to secondary organic aerosol (SOA), yet our mechanistic understanding of how the peroxy-radical-driven autoxidation leads to their formation in this system is still limited. The involved isomerisation reactions such as H-atom abstractions followed by O2 additions can take place on sub-second timescales in short-lived intermediates, making the process challenging to study. Similarly, while the end-products and sometimes radical intermediates can be observed using mass spectrometry, their structures remain elusive. Therefore, we propose a method utilising selective deuterations for unveiling the mechanisms of autoxidation, where the HOM products can be used to infer which C atoms have taken part in the isomerisation reactions. This relies on the fact that if a C−D bond is broken due to an abstraction by a peroxy group forming a −OOD hydroperoxide, the D atom will become labile and able to be exchanged with a hydrogen atom in water vapour (H2O), effectively leading to loss of the D atom from the molecule. In this study, we test the applicability of this method using three differently deuterated versions of α-pinene with the newly developed chemical ionisation Orbitrap (CI-Orbitrap) mass spectrometer to inspect the oxidation products. The high mass-resolving power of the Orbitrap is critical, as it allows the unambiguous separation of molecules with a D atom (mD=2.0141) from those with two H atoms (mH2=2.0157). We found that the method worked well, and we could deduce that two of the three tested compounds had lost D atoms during oxidation, suggesting that those deuterated positions were actively involved in the autoxidation process. Surprisingly, the deuterations were not observed to decrease HOM molar yields, as would have been expected due to kinetic isotope effects. This may be an indication that the relevant H (or D) abstractions were fast enough that no competing pathways were of relevance despite slower abstraction rates of the D atom. We show that selective deuteration can be a very useful method for studying autoxidation on a molecular level and likely is not limited to the system of α-pinene ozonolysis tested here.

     
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  3. The main nucleating vapor in the atmosphere is thought to be sulfuric acid (H2SO4), stabilized by ammonia (NH3). However, in marine and polar regions, NH3is generally low, and H2SO4is frequently found together with iodine oxoacids [HIOx, i.e., iodic acid (HIO3) and iodous acid (HIO2)]. In experiments performed with the CERN CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) chamber, we investigated the interplay of H2SO4and HIOxduring atmospheric particle nucleation. We found that HIOxgreatly enhances H2SO4(-NH3) nucleation through two different interactions. First, HIO3strongly binds with H2SO4in charged clusters so they drive particle nucleation synergistically. Second, HIO2substitutes for NH3, forming strongly bound H2SO4-HIO2acid-base pairs in molecular clusters. Global observations imply that HIOxis enhancing H2SO4(-NH3) nucleation rates 10- to 10,000-fold in marine and polar regions.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 15, 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. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Oxidation chemistry controls both combustion processes and the atmospheric transformation of volatile emissions. In combustion engines, radical species undergo isomerization reactions that allow fast addition of O 2 . This chain reaction, termed autoxidation, is enabled by high engine temperatures, but has recently been also identified as an important source for highly oxygenated species in the atmosphere, forming organic aerosol. Conventional knowledge suggests that atmospheric autoxidation requires suitable structural features, like double bonds or oxygen-containing moieties, in the precursors. With neither of these functionalities, alkanes, the primary fuel type in combustion engines and an important class of urban trace gases, are thought to have minor susceptibility to extensive autoxidation. Here, utilizing state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, measuring both radicals and oxidation products, we show that alkanes undergo autoxidation much more efficiently than previously thought, both under atmospheric and combustion conditions. Even at high concentrations of NO X , which typically rapidly terminates autoxidation in urban areas, the studied C 6 –C 10 alkanes produce considerable amounts of highly oxygenated products that can contribute to urban organic aerosol. The results of this inter-disciplinary effort provide crucial information on oxidation processes in both combustion engines and the atmosphere, with direct implications for engine efficiency and urban air quality. 
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  6. Abstract. This study presents a characterization of the hygroscopic growth behaviour and effects of different inorganic seed particles on the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) from the dark ozone-initiated oxidation of isoprene at low NOx conditions. We performed simulations of isoprene oxidation using a gas-phase chemical reaction mechanism based onthe Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) in combination with an equilibriumgas–particle partitioning model to predict the SOA concentration. Theequilibrium model accounts for non-ideal mixing in liquid phases, includingliquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS), and is based on the AIOMFAC (Aerosol Inorganic–Organic Mixtures Functional groups Activity Coefficients) model for mixture non-ideality and the EVAPORATION (Estimation of VApour Pressure of ORganics, Accounting for Temperature,Intramolecular, and Non-additivity effects) model for pure compound vapourpressures. Measurements from the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD)chamber experiments, conducted at the European Organization for NuclearResearch (CERN) for isoprene ozonolysis cases, were used to aid inparameterizing the SOA yields at different atmospherically relevanttemperatures, relative humidity (RH), and reacted isoprene concentrations. To represent the isoprene-ozonolysis-derived SOA, a selection of organicsurrogate species is introduced in the coupled modelling system. The modelpredicts a single, homogeneously mixed particle phase at all relativehumidity levels for SOA formation in the absence of any inorganic seedparticles. In the presence of aqueous sulfuric acid or ammonium bisulfateseed particles, the model predicts LLPS to occur below ∼ 80 % RH, where the particles consist of an inorganic-rich liquid phase andan organic-rich liquid phase; however, this includes significant amounts of bisulfate and water partitioned to the organic-rich phase. The measurements show an enhancement in the SOA amounts at 85 % RH, compared to 35 % RH, for both the seed-free and seeded cases. The model predictions of RH-dependent SOA yield enhancements at 85 % RH vs. 35 % RH are 1.80 for a seed-free case, 1.52 for the case with ammonium bisulfate seed, and 1.06 for the case with sulfuric acid seed. Predicted SOA yields are enhanced in the presence of an aqueous inorganic seed, regardless of the seed type (ammonium sulfate, ammonium bisulfate, or sulfuric acid) in comparison with seed-free conditions at the same RH level. We discuss the comparison of model-predicted SOA yields with a selection of other laboratory studies on isoprene SOA formation conducted at different temperatures and for a variety of reacted isoprene concentrations. Those studies were conducted at RH levels at or below 40 % with reported SOA mass yields ranging from 0.3 % up to 9.0 %, indicating considerable variations. A robust feature of our associated gas–particle partitioning calculations covering the whole RH range is the predicted enhancement of SOA yield at high RH (> 80 %) compared to low RH (dry) conditions, which is explained by the effect of particle water uptake and its impact on the equilibrium partitioning of all components. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Iodine species are important in the marine atmosphere foroxidation and new-particle formation. Understanding iodine chemistry andiodine new-particle formation requires high time resolution, highsensitivity, and simultaneous measurements of many iodine species. Here, wedescribe the application of a bromide chemical ionization mass spectrometer(Br-CIMS) to this task. During the iodine oxidation experiments in theCosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets (CLOUD) chamber, we have measured gas-phaseiodine species and sulfuric acid using two Br-CIMS, one coupled to aMulti-scheme chemical IONization inlet (Br-MION-CIMS) and the other to aFilter Inlet for Gasses and AEROsols inlet (Br-FIGAERO-CIMS). From offlinecalibrations and intercomparisons with other instruments, we havequantified the sensitivities of the Br-MION-CIMS to HOI, I2, andH2SO4 and obtained detection limits of 5.8 × 106,3.8 × 105, and 2.0 × 105 molec. cm−3,respectively, for a 2 min integration time. From binding energycalculations, we estimate the detection limit for HIO3 to be1.2 × 105 molec. cm−3, based on an assumption of maximumsensitivity. Detection limits in the Br-FIGAERO-CIMS are around 1 order ofmagnitude higher than those in the Br-MION-CIMS; for example, the detectionlimits for HOI and HIO3 are 3.3 × 107 and 5.1 × 106 molec. cm−3, respectively. Our comparisons of the performanceof the MION inlet and the FIGAERO inlet show that bromide chemicalionization mass spectrometers using either atmospheric pressure or reducedpressure interfaces are well-matched to measuring iodine species andsulfuric acid in marine environments. 
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  8. 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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  9. null (Ed.)