Measurement report: Secondary organic aerosols at a forested mountain site in southeastern China

Zhang, Zijun; Xu, Weiqi; Zhang, Yi; Zhou, Wei; Xu, Xiangyu; Du, Aodong; Zhang, Yinzhou; Qiao, Hongqin; Kuang, Ye; Pan, Xiaole; Wang, Zifa; Cheng, Xueling; Liu, Lanzhong; Fu, Qingyang; Worsnop, Douglas R.; Li, Jie; Sun, Yele

Aerosol particles play crucial roles in both climate dynamics and human health. However, there remains a significant gap in our understanding of aerosol composition and evolution, particularly regarding secondary organic aerosols (SOA), and their interaction with clouds in high-altitude background areas in China. Here we conducted real-time measurements of submicron aerosols (PM 1) using aerosol mass spectrometers at a forested mountain site (1128 m a.s.l.) in southeastern China in November 2022. Our results revealed that organic aerosol (OA) constituted a substantial portion of PM 1 (41.1 %), with the OA being primarily of secondary origin, as evidenced by a high oxygen-to-carbon (O/C) ratio (0.85–0.96). Positive matrix factorization resolved two distinct SOA factors: less oxidized oxygenated OA (LO-OOA) and more oxidized OOA (MO-OOA). Interestingly, MO-OOA was scavenged efficiently during cloud events, while cloud evaporation contributed significantly to LO-OOA. The ratio of OA/ΔCO increased with a decrease in the O/C ratio, suggesting that OA remaining in cloud droplets generally maintained a moderate oxidation state. Furthermore, our results indicated a higher contribution of organic nitrates to total nitrate during cloudy periods (27 %) compared to evaporative periods (3 %). Notably, a substantial contribution of nitrate in PM 1 (20.9 %) was observed, particularly during high PM periods, implying that nitrate formed in polluted areas interacted with clouds and significantly impacted the regional background site. Overall, our study underscores the importance of understanding the dynamics of secondary organic aerosols and the impacts of cloud processing in regional mountainous areas in southeastern China.

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Zhang, Zijun / Xu, Weiqi / Zhang, Yi / et al: Measurement report: Secondary organic aerosols at a forested mountain site in southeastern China. 2023. Copernicus Publications.

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