Simplification of the representation of the organic component of atmospheric particulates

Gordon McFiggans, M. Kami Alfarra, James Allan, Keith Bower, Hugh Coe, Mike Cubison, Dave Topping, Paul Williams, Stefano Decesari, Cristina Facchini, Sandro Fuzzi

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    We present an analysis of recent field data to investigate the variation in the organic component of atmospheric aerosol and its behaviour in the moist environment. In all locations the degree of oxygenation of the organic material increases with photochemical age, as does the particulate hygroscopicity. These changes will generally occur in spatial scales comparable to a single cell in global models at representative boundary layer wind speeds. Using ADDEM, a new model of the equilibrium state of multicomponent aerosol, we show that inorganic component changes must be responsible for the increase in particulate hygroscopicity with photochemical age. It is suggested that a common representation of nearfield and background organic aerosol composition is sufficient to describe the behaviour of organic components in a variety of field experiments; nearfield small mode organics being dominated by a combustion-derived unoxidised signature, whilst the background accumulation mode is more oxygenated and dominates in air masses with a photochemical age of more than a couple of days. This representation may be used within the sub-saturated regime to predict the behaviour of ambient particulates in the moist atmosphere. Whether a similar common representation can be used for cloud activation prediction in supersaturated environments, or for investigation of gas-to-particle partitioning, should be investigated. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2005.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)341-362
    Number of pages21
    JournalFaraday Discussions
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • aerosol mass-spectrometer
    • humic-like substances
    • lower fraser valley
    • chemical-composition
    • water activity
    • size distributions
    • hygroscopic growth
    • ionic-solutions
    • ace-asia
    • particles


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