Characterization of nighttime formation of particulate organic nitrates based on high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometry in an urban atmosphere in China

Yu, Kuangyou; Zhu, Qiao; Du, Ke; Huang, Xiao-Feng

Organic nitrates are important atmospheric species that significantly affect the cycling of inline-formulaNOx and ozone production. However, characterization of particulate organic nitrates and their sources in polluted atmosphere is a big challenge and has not been comprehensively studied in Asia. In this study, an aerodyne high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) was deployed at an urban site in China from 2015 to 2016 to characterize particulate organic nitrates in total nitrates with a high time resolution. Based on the cross-validation of two different data processing methods, organic nitrates were effectively quantified to contribute a notable fraction of organic aerosol (OA), namely 9 %–21 % in spring, 11 %–25 % in summer, and 9 %–20 % in autumn, while contributing a very small fraction in winter. The good correlation between organic nitrates and fresh secondary organic aerosol (SOA) at night, as well as the diurnal trend of size distribution of organic nitrates, indicated a key role of nighttime local secondary formation of organic nitrates. Furthermore, theoretical calculations of nighttime SOA production of inline-formulaNO3 reactions with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) measured during the spring campaign were performed, resulting in three biogenic VOCs (inline-formulaα-pinene, limonene, and camphene) and one anthropogenic VOC (styrene) identified as the possible key VOC precursors to particulate organic nitrates. The comparison with similar studies in the literature implied that nighttime particulate organic nitrate formation is highly relevant to inline-formulaNOx levels. This study proposes that unlike the documented cases in the United States and Europe, modeling nighttime particulate organic nitrate formation in China should incorporate not only biogenic VOCs but also anthropogenic VOCs for urban air pollution, which needs the support of relevant smog chamber studies in the future.

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Yu, Kuangyou / Zhu, Qiao / Du, Ke / et al: Characterization of nighttime formation of particulate organic nitrates based on high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometry in an urban atmosphere in China. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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