Measurements of aerosol chemistry during new particle formation events at a remote rural mountain site

Creamean, JM, Ault AP, Ten Hoeve JE, Jacobson MZ, Roberts GC, Prather KA.  2011.  Measurements of aerosol chemistry during new particle formation events at a remote rural mountain site. Environmental Science & Technology. 45:8208-8216.

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atmospheric measurements, atofms, boundary-layer, california, chemical-composition, dispersion model flexpart, efficiency, growth, mass-spectrometry, secondary


Determining the major sources of particles that act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) represents a critical step in the development of a more fundamental understanding of aerosol impacts on cloud formation and climate. Reported herein are direct measurements of the CCN activity of newly formed ambient particles, measured at a remote rural site in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. Nucleation events in the winter of 2009 occurred during two pristine periods following precipitation, with higher gas-phase SO(2) concentrations during the second period, when faster particle growth occurred (7-8 nm/h). Amines, as opposed to ammonia, and sulfate were detected in the particle phase throughout new particle formation (NPF) events, increasing in number as the particles grew to larger sizes. Interestingly, long-range transport of SO(2) from Asia appeared to potentially play a role in NPF during faster particle growth. Understanding the propensity of newly formed particles to act as CCN is critical for predicting the effects of NPF on orographic cloud formation during winter storms along the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The potential impact of newly formed particles in remote regions needs to be compared with that of transported urban aerosols when evaluating the impact of aerosols on clouds and climate.