Optical Properties of Polymers Relevant to Secondary Organic Aerosols

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Wilmarie Marrero-Ortiz1, Mario E. Gomez-Hernandez1, Wen Xu1, Song Guo2 and Renyi Zhang1,2, (1)Texas A & M University, Department of Chemistry, College Station, TX, United States, (2)Texas A & M University, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, College Station, TX, United States
Atmospheric aerosols play a critical role in climate directly by scattering and absorbing solar radiation and indirectly by modifying the cloud formation. Currently, the direct and indirect effects of aerosols represent the largest uncertainty in climate predictions models. Some aerosols are directly emitted, but the majority are formed in the atmosphere by the oxidation of gaseous precursors. However, the formation of aerosols at the molecular level is not fully characterized. Certain category of secondary organic aerosols (SOA), which represent a significant fraction of the total aerosol burden, can be light-absorbing, also known as brown carbon. However, the overall contribution of SOA to the brown carbon and the related climate forcing is poorly understood. Such incomplete understanding is due in part to the chemical complexity of SOA and the lack of knowledge regarding SOA formation, transformation, and optical properties. Based on previous laboratory experiments, field measurements, and modeling studies, it has been suggested that the polymers and oligomers play an important role in the SOA formation. Atmospheric polymers could be produced by the hydration or heterogeneous reactions of epoxides and small α-dicarbonyls. Their aqueous chemistry products have been shown to give light-absorbing and high molecular weight oligomeric species, which increase the SOA mass production and alter the direct and indirect effect of aerosols. In this paper, the aerosol chemistry of small α-dicarbonyl compounds with amines is investigated and the associated optical properties are measured using spectroscopic techniques. The differences between primary, secondary and tertiary amines with glyoxal and methylglyoxal are evaluated in terms of SOA browning efficiency. Atmospheric implications of our present work for understanding the formation of light-absorbing SOA will be presented, particularly in terms of the product distribution of light-absorbing SOA formed by aqueous phase reactions.