Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 387-423, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Organic condensation – a vital link connecting aerosol formation to climate forcing
I. Riipinen1,2, J. R. Pierce3, T. Yli-Juuti2, T. Nieminen2, S. Häkkinen2, M. Ehn2, H. Junninen2, K. Lehtipalo2, T. Petäjä2, J. Slowik4, R. Chang4, N. C. Shantz5, J. Abbatt4, W. R. Leaitch5, V.-M. Kerminen2,6, D. R. Worsnop2,7, S. N. Pandis1,8, N. M. Donahue1, and M. Kulmala2
1Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS), Carnegie Mellon University, 15213, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, B3H 3J5, Halifax, NS, Canada
4Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, M5S 3H6, Toronto, ON, Canada
5Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, M3H 5T4, Toronto, ON, Canada
6Finnish Meteorological Institute, 00880, Helsinki, Finland
7Aerodyne Research Inc., 01821, Billerica, MA, USA
8Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras, 26500, Patra, Greece

Abstract. Atmospheric aerosol particles influence global climate as well as impair air quality through their effects on atmospheric visibility and human health. Ultrafine (<100 nm) particles often dominate aerosol numbers, and nucleation of atmospheric vapors is an important source of these particles. To have climatic relevance, however, the freshly-nucleated particles need to grow in size. We combine observations from two continental sites (Egbert, Canada and Hyytiälä, Finland) to show that condensation of organic vapors is a crucial factor governing the lifetimes and climatic importance of the smallest atmospheric particles. We demonstrate that state-of-the-science organic gas-particle partitioning models fail to reproduce the observations, and propose a modeling approach that is consistent with the measurements. We demonstrate the large sensitivity of climatic forcing of atmospheric aerosols to these interactions between organic vapors and the smallest atmospheric nanoparticles – highlighting the need for representing this process in global climate models.

Citation: Riipinen, I., Pierce, J. R., Yli-Juuti, T., Nieminen, T., Häkkinen, S., Ehn, M., Junninen, H., Lehtipalo, K., Petäjä, T., Slowik, J., Chang, R., Shantz, N. C., Abbatt, J., Leaitch, W. R., Kerminen, V.-M., Worsnop, D. R., Pandis, S. N., Donahue, N. M., and Kulmala, M.: Organic condensation – a vital link connecting aerosol formation to climate forcing, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 387-423, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-387-2011, 2011.
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