Molecular and seasonal characteristics of organic vapors in urban Beijing: insights from Vocus-PTR measurements

An, Zhaojin; Yin, Rujing; Zhao, Xinyan; Li, Xiaoxiao; Yuan, Yi; Guo, Junchen; Li, Yuyang; Li, Xue; Li, Dandan; Li, Yaowei; Wang, Dongbin; Yan, Chao; He, Kebin; Worsnop, Douglas R.; Keutsch, Frank N.; Jiang, Jingkun

Understanding the compositions and evolution of atmospheric organic vapors is crucial for exploring their impact on air quality. However, the molecular and seasonal characteristics of organic vapors in urban areas, with complex anthropogenic emissions and high variability, remain inadequately understood. In this study, we conducted measurements in urban Beijing during 2021–2022 covering four seasons using a Vocus-PTR, an improved Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS). During the measurement period, a total of 895 peaks are observed, and 543 of them can be assigned to formulas. The contribution of C xH yO z species is most significant, which compose up to 53.7 % of the number and 76.0 % of the mass of total organics. With enhanced sensitivity and mass resolution, various sub-ppt level species and organics with multiple oxygens (≥3) were discovered. When counting the species number, 42.2 % of the organics measured are at sub-ppt level and 37.8 % of the species contain 3–8 oxygens. Organic vapors with multiple oxygens mainly consist of intermediate volatility and semi-volatile compounds, and many of them are found to be the multi-generational oxidation products of various volatile organic precursors. In summer, the fast photooxidation process generates organic vapors with multiple oxygens, and leads to an increase in both their concentration and proportion. While in other seasons, the variations of organic vapors with multiple oxygens are closely correlated with those of organic vapors with 1–2 oxygens, which could be heavily influenced by primary emissions. Organic vapors with low oxygen content (≤ 2 oxygens) are comparable to the results obtained by traditional PTR-MS measurements in both urban Beijing and neighboring regions.

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An, Zhaojin / Yin, Rujing / Zhao, Xinyan / et al: Molecular and seasonal characteristics of organic vapors in urban Beijing: insights from Vocus-PTR measurements. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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