Evolution of Organic Aerosols in the Atmosphere

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Science  11 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5959, pp. 1525-1529
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180353

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Organic aerosol (OA) particles affect climate forcing and human health, but their sources and evolution remain poorly characterized. We present a unifying model framework describing the atmospheric evolution of OA that is constrained by high–time-resolution measurements of its composition, volatility, and oxidation state. OA and OA precursor gases evolve by becoming increasingly oxidized, less volatile, and more hygroscopic, leading to the formation of oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA), with concentrations comparable to those of sulfate aerosol throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Our model framework captures the dynamic aging behavior observed in both the atmosphere and laboratory: It can serve as a basis for improving parameterizations in regional and global models.

  • Present address: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland.

  • Present address: Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

  • § Present address: CERN, Geneva, Switzerland.

  • ||Present address: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA.

  • Present address: Climate Program Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD, USA.

  • # Present address: Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany.

  • †† Present address: Environ International, Groton, MA, USA.

  • ‡‡ Present address: Tokyo Metropolitan Research Institute for Environmental Protection, Tokyo, Japan.

  • §§ Present address: Institute of Symbiotic Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Tokyo, Japan.

  • || ||Present address: Shoreline Science Research, Tokyo, Japan.

  • ¶¶ Present address: Department of Particle Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany.

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