The Pasadena Aerosol Characterization Observatory (PACO): chemical and physical analysis of the Western Los Angeles Basin aerosol
1Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
2Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
3Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
Abstract. The Pasadena Aerosol Characterization Observatory (PACO) represents the first major aerosol characterization experiment centered in the Western/Central Los Angeles Basin. The sampling site, located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was positioned to sample a continuous afternoon influx of transported urban aerosol with a photochemical age of 1–2 h and generally free from major local contributions. Sampling spanned 5 months during the summer of 2009, which were broken into 3 regimes on the basis of distinct meteorological conditions. Regime I was characterized by a series of low pressure systems, resulting in high humidity and rainy periods with clean conditions. Regime II typified early summer meteorology, with significant morning marine layers and warm, sunny afternoons. Regime III was characterized by hot, dry conditions with little marine layer influence.
Organic aerosol (OA) is the most significant constituent of Los Angeles aerosol (42, 43, and 55% of total submicron mass in regimes I, II, and III, respectively), and that the overall oxidation state remains relatively constant on timescales of days to weeks (O:C = 0.44 ± 0.08, 0.55 ± 0.05, and 0.48 ± 0.08 during regimes I, II, and III, respectively), with no difference in O:C between morning and afternoon periods. Periods characterized by significant morning marine layer influence followed by photochemically favorable afternoons displayed significantly higher aerosol mass and O:C ratio, suggesting that aqueous processes may be important in the generation of secondary aerosol and oxidized organic aerosol (OOA) in Los Angeles.
Water soluble organic mass (WSOM) reaches maxima near 14:00–15:00 local time (LT), but the percentage of AMS organic mass contributed by WSOM remains relatively constant throughout the day. Sulfate and nitrate reside predominantly in accumulation mode aerosol, while afternoon SOA production coincides with the appearance of a distinct fine mode dominated by organics. Particulate NH4NO3 and (NH4)2SO4 appear to be NH3-limited in regimes I and II, but a significant excess of particulate NH4+ in the hot, dry regime III suggests less marine SO42− and the presence of organic amines.
Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) analysis of C-ToF-AMS data resolved three factors, corresponding to a hydrocarbon-like OA (HOA), semivolatile OOA (SV-OOA), and low-volatility OOA (LV-OOA). HOA appears to be a periodic plume source, while SV-OOA exhibits a strong diurnal pattern correlating with ozone. Peaks in SV-OOA concentration correspond to peaks in DMA number concentration and the appearance of a fine organic mode. LV-OOA appears to be an aged accumulation mode constituent that may be associated with aqueous-phase processing, correlating strongly with sulfate and representing the dominant background organic component.
Filter analysis revealed a complex mixture of species during periods dominated by SV-OOA and LV-OOA, with LV-OOA periods characterized by shorter-chain dicarboxylic acids (higher O:C ratio), as well as appreciable amounts of nitrate- and sulfate-substituted organics. Phthalic acid was ubiquitous in filter samples, suggesting that PAH photochemistry may be an important SOA pathway in Los Angeles.
Water uptake characteristics indicate that hygroscopicity is largely controlled by organic mass fraction (OMF). The hygroscopicity parameter κ averaged 0.31 ± 0.08, approaching 0.5 at low OMF and 0.1 at high OMF, with increasing OMF suppressing hygroscopic growth and increasing critical dry diameter for CCN activation (Dd).
Finally, PACO will provide context for results forthcoming from the CalNex field campaign, which involved ground sampling in Pasadena during the spring and summer of 2010.