Nucleation mode growth rates in Hyytiälä during 2003–2009: variation with particle size, season, data analysis method and ambient conditions
1Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, 00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Finnish Meteorological Institute, Erik Palménin aukio 1, 00560 Helsinki, Finland
3Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia
Abstract. The condensational growth rate of aerosol particles formed in atmospheric new particle formation events is one of the most important factors influencing the life time of these particles and their ability to become climatically relevant. Diameter growth rates (GR) of nucleation mode particles were studied based on almost 7 yr of data measured during the years 2003–2009 at a boreal forest measurement station SMEAR II in Hyytiälä, Finland. The particle growth rates were estimated using particle size distributions measured with a Differential Mobility Particle Sizer (DMPS), a Balanced Scanning Mobility Analyser (BSMA) and an Air Ion Spectrometer (AIS). Two GR analysis methods were tested. The particle growth rates were also compared to an extensive set of ambient meteorological parameters and trace gas concentrations to investigate the processes/constituents limiting the aerosol growth. The median growth rates of particles in the nucleation mode size ranges with diameters of 1.5–3 nm, 3–7 nm and 7–20 nm were 1.9 nm h−1, 3.8 nm h−1, and 4.3 nm h−1, respectively. The median relative uncertainties in the growth rates due to the size distribution instrumentation in these size ranges were 25 %, 19 %, and 8 %, respectively. For the smallest particles (1.5–3 nm) the AIS data yielded on average higher growth rate values than the BSMA data, and higher growth rates were obtained from positively charged size distributions as compared with negatively charged particles. For particles larger than 3 nm in diameter no such systematic differences were found. For these particles the main uncertainty of the growth rate was related to the analysis method, as the values obtained with the two methods had a median difference of 35 %. The growth rates of 7–20 nm particles showed correlation with monoterpene concentrations and their oxidation rate by ozone. The oxidation rate by OH did not show a connection with GR. Our results indicate that the growth of nucleation mode particles in Hyytiälä is mainly limited by the concentrations and O3-oxidation of organic precursors.