1State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
2Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, California, USA
3Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York, USA
4School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Abstract. The high resolution mass spectra of organic and inorganic aerosols from aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements were first combined into positive matrix factorization (PMF) analysis to investigate the sources and evolution processes of atmospheric aerosols. The new approach is able to study the mixing of organic aerosols (OA) and inorganic species, the acidity of OA factors, and the fragment ion patterns related to photochemical processing. In this study, PMF analysis of the unified AMS spectral matrices resolved 8 factors for the submicron aerosols measured at Queens College in New York City in summer 2009. The hydrocarbon-like OA (HOA) and cooking OA (COA) contain very minor inorganic species, indicating the different sources and mixing characteristics between primary OA and secondary species. The two factors that are primarily ammonium sulfate (SO4-OA) and ammonium nitrate (NO3-OA), respectively, are overall neutralized, of which the OA in SO4-OA shows the highest oxidation state (O/C = 0.69) among OA factors. The semi-volatile oxygenated OA comprises two components, i.e., a less oxidized (LO-OOA) and a more oxidized (MO-OOA). The MO-OOA represents a local photochemical product with the diurnal profile exhibiting a pronounced noon peak, consistent with those of formaldehyde (HCHO) and Ox (= O3+NO2). The much higher NO+/NO2+ fragment ion ratio in MO-OOA than that from ammonium nitrate alone provides evidence for the formation of organic nitrates. The amine-related nitrogen-enriched OA (NOA) contains ~25% of acidic inorganic salts, elucidating the formation of secondary OA from amines in acidic environments. The size distributions derived from 3-dimensional size-resolved mass spectra show distinct diurnal evolving behaviors for different OA factors, but overall a progressing evolution from smaller to larger particle mode as a function of oxidation states. Our results demonstrate that PMF analysis by incorporating inorganic aerosols is of importance for gaining more insights into the sources and processes, mixing characteristics, and acidity of OA.