The Formation of Haze During the Rise of Oxygen in the Atmosphere of the Early Earth 

Friday, 19 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Sarah M Horst, Johns Hopkins University, Earth and Planetary Science, Baltimore, MD, United States, Mark Jellinek, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, Raymond Pierrehumbert, Univ of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States and Margaret A Tolbert, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States
also provide a wealth of organic material to the surface. Photochemical hazes are abundant in reducing atmospheres, such as the N2/CH4 atmosphere of Titan, but are unlikely to form in oxidizing atmospheres, such as the N2/O2 atmosphere of present day Earth. However, information about haze formation in mildly oxidizing atmospheres is lacking. Understanding haze formation in mildly oxidizing atmospheres is necessary for models that wish to investigate the atmosphere of the Early Earth as O2 first appeared and then increased in abundance.

Previous studies of the atmosphere of the Early Earth have focused on haze formation in N2/CO2/CH4 atmospheres. In this work, we experimentally investigate the effect of the addition of O2 on the formation and composition of aerosols. Using a High-Resolution Time-of-Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) (see e.g. [1]) we have obtained in situ composition measurements of aerosol particles produced in N2/CO2/CH4/O2 gas mixtures subjected to FUV radiation (deuterium lamp, 115-400 nm) for a range of initial CO2/CH4/O2 mixing ratios. In particular, we studied the effect of O2 ranging from 2 ppm to 2%. The particles were also investigated using a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS), which measures particle size, number density and mass loading. A comparison of the composition of the aerosols will be presented. The effect of variation of O2 mixing ratio on aerosol production, size, and composition will also be discussed.

[1] Trainer, M.G., et al. (2012) Astrobiology, 12, 315-326.