Formation of Oxidized Organic Aerosol (OOA) through Fog Processing in the Po Valley
Abstract:Aqueous phase chemistry might be responsible for the formation of a significant fraction of the organic aerosol (OA) observed in the atmosphere, and could explain some of the discrepancies between OA concentration and properties predicted by models and observed in the environment.
Aerosol - fog interaction and its effect on submicron aerosol properties were investigated in the Po Valley (northern Italy) during fall 2011, in the framework of the Supersite project (ARPA Emilia Romagna). Composition and physical properties of submicron aerosol were measured online by a High Resolution- Time of Flight – Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (HR-TOF-AMS), a Soot Photometer – Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (SP-AMS), and a Tandem Differential Mobility Particle Sizer (TDMPS). Organic functional group analysis was performed off-line by Hydrogen - Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (H-NMR) spectrometry and by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometry. Aerosol absorption, scattering, and total extinction were measured simultaneously with a Particle Soot Absorption Photometer (PSAP), a Nephelometer, and a Cavity Attenuated Phase Shift Spectrometer particle extinction monitor (CAPS PMex), respectively. Water-soluble organic carbon in fog-water was characterized off-line by HR-TOF-AMS.
Fourteen distinct fog events were observed. Fog dissipation left behind an aerosol enriched in particles larger than 400 nm, typical of fog and cloud processing, and dominated by secondary species, including ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate and oxidized OA (OOA). Source apportionment of OA allowed us to identify OOA as the difference between total OA and primary OA (hydrocarbon like OA and biomass burning OA). The formation of OOA through fog processing is proved by the correlation of OOA concentration with hydroxyl methyl sulfonate signal and by the similarity of OOA spectra with organic mass spectra obtained by re-aerosolization of fog water samples. The oxygen to carbon ratio and the hydrogen to carbon ratio of this OOA fraction was about 0.6 and 1.3, respectively. Organic functional group analysis showed that OOA observed after fog dissipation was characterized by organic-sulfur and organic-nitrogen species.