Variation in chemical composition and volatility of oxygenated organic aerosol in different rural, urban, and mountain environments

Huang, Wei; Wu, Cheng; Gao, Linyu; Gramlich, Yvette; Haslett, Sophie L.; Thornton, Joel; Lopez-Hilfiker, Felipe D.; Lee, Ben H.; Song, Junwei; Saathoff, Harald; Shen, Xiaoli; Ramisetty, Ramakrishna; Tripathi, Sachchida N.; Ganguly, Dilip; Jiang, Feng; Vallon, Magdalena; Schobesberger, Siegfried; Yli-Juuti, Taina; Mohr, Claudia

page2608The apparent volatility of atmospheric organic aerosol (OA) particles is determined by their chemical composition and environmental conditions (e.g., ambient temperature). A quantitative, experimental assessment of volatility and the respective importance of these two factors remains challenging, especially in ambient measurements. We present molecular composition and volatility of oxygenated OA (OOA) particles in different rural, urban, and mountain environments (including Chacaltaya, Bolivia; Alabama, US; Hyytiälä, Finland; Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, Germany; and Delhi, India) based on deployments of a filter inlet for gases and aerosols coupled to a high-resolution time-of-flight chemical ionization mass spectrometer (FIGAERO-CIMS). We find on average larger carbon numbers (nC​​​​​​​) and lower oxygen-to-carbon (O : C) ratios at the urban sites (nC: 9.8 inline-formula± 0.7; O : C: 0.76 inline-formula± 0.03; average inline-formula±1 standard deviation) compared to the rural (nC: 8.8 inline-formula± 0.6; O : C: 0.80 inline-formula± 0.05) and mountain stations (nC: 8.1 inline-formula± 0.8; O : C: 0.91 inline-formula± 0.07), indicative of different emission sources and chemistry. Compounds containing only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms (CHO) contribute the most to the total OOA mass at the rural sites (79.9 inline-formula± 5.2 %), in accordance with their proximity to forested areas (66.2 inline-formula± 5.5 % at the mountain sites and 72.6 inline-formula± 4.3 % at the urban sites). The largest contribution of nitrogen-containing compounds (CHON) is found at the urban stations (27.1 inline-formula± 4.3 %), consistent with their higher NOinline-formulax levels. Moreover, we parametrize OOA volatility (saturation mass concentrations, inline-formulaCsat) using molecular composition information and compare it with the bulk apparent volatility derived from thermal desorption of the OOA particles within the FIGAERO. We find differences in inline-formulaCsat values of up to inline-formula∼ 3 orders of magnitude and variation in thermal desorption profiles (thermograms) across different locations and systems. From our study, we draw the general conclusion that environmental conditions (e.g., ambient temperature) do not directly affect OOA apparent volatility but rather indirectly by influencing the sources and chemistry of the environment and thus the chemical composition. The comprehensive dataset provides results that show the complex thermodynamics and chemistry of OOA and their changes during its lifetime in the atmosphere. We conclude that generally the chemical description of OOA suffices to predict its apparent volatility, at least qualitatively. Our study thus provides new insights that will help guide choices of, e.g., descriptions of OOA volatility in different model frameworks such as air quality models and cloud parcel models.

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Huang, Wei / Wu, Cheng / Gao, Linyu / et al: Variation in chemical composition and volatility of oxygenated organic aerosol in different rural, urban, and mountain environments. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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