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The role of sulphates and organic vapours in growth of newly formed particles in a eucalypt forest

by Z. D. Ristovski, T. Suni, M. Kulmala, M. Boy, N. K. Meyer, J. Duplissy, A. Turnipseed, L. Morawska, U. Baltensperger show all authors
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()

Abstract

The influence of biogenic particle formation on climate is a well recognised phenomenon. To understand the mechanisms underlying the biogenic particle formation, determining the chemical composition of the new particles and therefore the species that drive the particle production is of utmost importance. Due to the very small amount of mass involved, indirect approaches are frequently used to infer the composition. We present here the results of such an indirect approach by simultaneously measuring volatile and hygroscopic properties of newly formed particles in a forest environment. It is shown that the particles are composed of both sulphates and organics, with the amount of sulphate component strongly depending on the available gas-phase sulphuric acid, and the organic components having the same volatility and hygroscopicity as photo-oxidation products of a monoterpene such as alpha-pinene. Our findings agree with a two-step process through nucleation and cluster formation followed by simultaneous growth by condensation of sulphates and organics that take the particles to climatically relevant sizes.

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