SOA Precursors: A Comparison of Semi-Volatile and Water Soluble Organic Gases During SOAS
Abstract:It is well-established that a major pathway for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation is via the partitioning of semi-volatile products of gas-phase photochemical reactions into preexisting organic particulate matter. Semi-volatile partitioning theory is widely used while modeling SOA. Despite its significance, parameterizations based solely on this formation pathway are unable to reproduce trends in SOA mass, particularly high atmospheric O/C ratios and enrichment of organic aerosol aloft. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of formation of SOA through reactions of water-soluble organic gases (WSOG) in atmospheric waters (clouds, fogs, and wet aerosols).
In order to understand the relative magnitude of potential precursors to SOA via both formation pathways, we modeled semi-volatile and WSOG concentrations during the Secondary Organic and Aerosol Study (SOAS) conducted in Brent, Alabama during June-July 2013. CMAQ 5.0.1 is used to predict mixing ratios of semi-volatile gases and WSOG over the continental US for a 10 day time period during SOAS. Our modeling results indicate that WSOG concentrations are an order of magnitude greater, on average, than the sum of semi-volatile gases. Interestingly, concentrations of semi-volatile gases increase aloft, unlike concentrations of WSOG. These results suggest that the potential for SOA formation from WSOG was high, and provide support for efforts to accurately model that multiphase chemistry in order to develop more effective air quality management strategies.