Observations of Secondary Organic Aerosol Production and Soot Aging under Atmospheric Conditions Using a Novel Environmental Aerosol Chamber
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Secondary organic aerosols (SOA) comprise a substantial fraction of the total global aerosol budget. While laboratory studies involving smog chambers have advanced our understanding of the formation mechanisms responsible for SOA, our knowledge of the processes leading to SOA production under ambient gaseous and particulate concentrations as well as the impact these aerosol types have on climate is poorly understood. Although the majority of atmospheric aerosols scatter radiation either directly or indirectly by serving as cloud condensation nuclei, soot is thought to have a significant warming effect through absorption. Like inorganic salts, soot may undergo atmospheric transformation through the vapor condensation of non-volatile gaseous species which will alter both its chemical and physical properties. Typical smog chamber studies investigating the formation and growth of SOA as well as the soot aging process are temporally limited by the initial gaseous concentrations injected into the chamber environment. Furthermore, data interpretation from such experiments is generally restricted to the singular gaseous species under investigation. This dissertation discusses the use of a new aerosol chamber designed to study the formation and growth of SOA and soot aging under atmospherically relevant conditions. The Ambient Aerosol Chamber for Evolution Studies (AACES) was deployed at three field sites where size and hygroscopic growth factor (HGF) of ammonium sulfate seed particles was monitored over time to examine the formation and growth of SOA. Similar studies investigating the soot aging process were also conducted in Houston, TX. It is shown that during the ambient growth of ammonium sulfate seed particles, as particle size increases, hygroscopic growth factors decrease considerably resulting in a significant organic mass fraction in the particle phase concluding an experiment. Observations of soot aging show an increase in measured size, HGF, mass and single scattering albedo. Ambient growth rate comparisons with chamber growth yielded similar trends verifying the use of AACES to study aerosol aging. Based on the results from this study, it is recommended that AACES be employed in future studies involving the production and growth of SOA and soot aging under ambient conditions in order to bridge the gaps in our current scientific knowledge.
Secondary Organic Aerosol
Glen, Crystal (2010). Observations of Secondary Organic Aerosol Production and Soot Aging under Atmospheric Conditions Using a Novel Environmental Aerosol Chamber. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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