Measurement report: Molecular composition and volatility of gaseous organic compounds in a boreal forest – from volatile organic compounds to highly oxygenated organic molecules

Huang, Wei; Li, Haiyan; Sarnela, Nina; Heikkinen, Liine; Tham, Yee Jun; Mikkilä, Jyri; Thomas, Steven J.; Donahue, Neil M.; Kulmala, Markku; Bianchi, Federico

The molecular composition and volatility of gaseous organic compounds were investigated during April–July 2019 at the Station for Measuring Ecosystem – Atmosphere Relations (SMEAR) II situated in a boreal forest in Hyytiälä, southern Finland. In order to obtain a more complete picture and full understanding of the molecular composition and volatility of ambient gaseous organic compounds (from volatile organic compounds, VOCs, to highly oxygenated organic molecules, HOMs), two different instruments were used. A Vocus proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (Vocus PTR-ToF; hereafter Vocus) was deployed to measure VOCs and less oxygenated VOCs (i.e., OVOCs). In addition, a multi-scheme chemical ionization inlet coupled to an atmospheric pressure interface time-of-flight mass spectrometer (MION API-ToF) was used to detect less oxygenated VOCs (using Brinline-formula as the reagent ion; hereafter MION-Br) and more oxygenated VOCs (including HOMs; using NOinline-formula M2inlinescrollmathml normal 3 - 9pt16ptsvg-formulamathimg53e1f98be2cdf70dbe180d95894fc6b5 acp-21-8961-2021-ie00001.svg9pt16ptacp-21-8961-2021-ie00001.png as the reagent ion; hereafter MION-NOinline-formula3). The comparison among different measurement techniques revealed that the highest elemental oxygen-to-carbon ratios (O : C) of organic compounds were observed by the MION-NOinline-formula3 (0.9 inline-formula± 0.1, average inline-formula± 1 standard deviation), followed by the MION-Br (0.8 inline-formula± 0.1); lowest O : C ratios were observed by Vocus (0.2 inline-formula± 0.1). Diurnal patterns of the measured organic compounds were found to vary among different measurement techniques, even for compounds with the same molecular formula, suggesting contributions of different isomers detected by the different techniques and/or fragmentation from different parent compounds inside the instruments. Based on the complementary molecular information obtained from Vocus, MION-Br, and MION-NOinline-formula3, a more complete picture of the bulk volatility of all measured organic compounds in this boreal forest was obtained. As expected, the VOC class was the most abundant (about 53.2 %), followed by intermediate-volatility organic compounds (IVOCs, about 45.9 %). Although condensable organic compounds (low-volatility organic compounds, LVOCs; extremely low volatility organic compounds, ELVOCs; and ultralow-volatility organic compounds, ULVOCs) only comprised about 0.2 % of the total gaseous organic compounds, they play an important role in new particle formation as shown in previous studies in this boreal forest. Our study shows the full characterization of the gaseous organic compounds in the boreal forest and the advantages of combining Vocus and MION API-ToF for measuring ambient organic compounds with different oxidation extents (from VOCs to HOMs). The results therefore provide a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular composition and volatility of atmospheric organic compounds as well as new insights into interpreting ambient measurementspage8962 or testing/improving parameterizations in transport and climate models.

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Huang, Wei / Li, Haiyan / Sarnela, Nina / et al: Measurement report: Molecular composition and volatility of gaseous organic compounds in a boreal forest – from volatile organic compounds to highly oxygenated organic molecules. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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