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Resolving Ambient Organic Aerosol Formation and Aging Pathways with Simultaneous Molecular Composition and Volatility Observations
Lee, B., E. D'Ambro, F. Lopez-Hilfiker, S. Schobesberger, C. Mohr, M. Zawakowicz, J. Liu, J. Shilling, W. Hu, B. Palm, J. Jimenez, L. Hao, A. Virtanen, H. Zhang, A. Goldstein, H. Pye, AND J. Thornton. Resolving Ambient Organic Aerosol Formation and Aging Pathways with Simultaneous Molecular Composition and Volatility Observations. ACS Earth and Space Chemistry. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 4(3):391-402, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1021/acsearthspacechem.9b00302
Vegetation emits compounds that form PM2.5 in ambient air. This work shows that nitrogen oxides (primarily from combustion) modulate the amount of PM2.5 from boreal forests through indirect mechanisms.
Organic aerosol (OA) constitutes a significant fraction of atmospheric fine particle mass. However, the precursors and chemical processes responsible for a majority of OA are rarely conclusively identified. We use online observations of hundreds of simultaneously measured molecular components obtained from 15 laboratory OA formation experiments with constraints on their effective saturation vapor concentrations to attribute the volatile organic compound (VOC) precursors and subsequent chemical pathways giving rise to the vast majority of OA mass measured in two forested regions. We find that precursors and chemical pathways regulating OA composition and volatility are dynamic over hours to days, with their variations driven by coupled interactions between multiple oxidants. The extent of physical and photochemical aging, and its modulation by NOx, was key to a uniquely comprehensive combined composition–volatility description of OA. Our findings thus provide some of the most complete mechanistic-level guidance to the development of OA descriptions in air quality and earth system models.