Report

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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Framework for Change

Organic aerosols make up 20 to 90% of the particulate mass of the troposphere and are important factors in both climate and human heath. However, their sources and removal pathways are very uncertain, and their atmospheric evolution is poorly characterized. Jimenez et al. (p. 1525; see the Perspective by Andreae) present an integrated framework of organic aerosol compositional evolution in the atmosphere, based on model results and field and laboratory data that simulate the dynamic aging behavior of organic aerosols. Particles become more oxidized, more hygroscopic, and less volatile with age, as they become oxygenated organic aerosols. These results should lead to better predictions of climate and air quality.