Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 7521-7544, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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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.
Cloud condensation nuclei activity of fresh primary and aged biomass burning aerosol
G. J. Engelhart1, C. J. Hennigan1, M. A. Miracolo1, A. L. Robinson1, and S. N. Pandis1,2,3
1Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, 15217, Pittsburgh, USA
2Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras, Patra, Greece
3Institute of Chemical Engineering and High Temperatures, Foundation of Research and Technology, Patra, Greece

Abstract. We quantify the hygroscopic properties of particles freshly emitted from biomass burning and after several hours of photochemical aging in a smog chamber. Values of the hygroscopicity parameter, κ, were calculated from cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) measurements of emissions from combustion of 12 biomass fuels commonly burned in North American wildfires. Prior to photochemical aging, the κ of the fresh primary aerosol varied widely, between 0.06 (weakly hygroscopic) and 0.6 (highly hygroscopic). The hygroscopicity of the primary aerosol was positively correlated with the inorganic mass fraction of the particles. There was also a relationship between the hygroscopicity of the primary aerosol and the extent of oxygenation of the primary organic aerosol (POA), suggesting an influence of the POA composition on the primary aerosol hygroscopicity as well. Photochemical processing reduced the range of κ values to between 0.08 and 0.3. The changes in κ were driven by the photochemical production of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). SOA also contributed to growth of particles formed during nucleation events. Analysis of the nucleation mode particles enabled the first direct quantification of the hygroscopicity parameter κ for biomass burning SOA, which was on average 0.11, similar to values observed for biogenic SOA. Although initial CCN activity of biomass burning aerosol emissions are highly variable, after a few hours of photochemical processing κ converges to a value of 0.2 ± 0.1. Therefore, photochemical aging reduces the variability of biomass burning CCN, which should simplify analysis of the potential effects of biomass burning aerosol on climate.

Citation: Engelhart, G. J., Hennigan, C. J., Miracolo, M. A., Robinson, A. L., and Pandis, S. N.: Cloud condensation nuclei activity of fresh primary and aged biomass burning aerosol, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 7521-7544, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-7521-2012, 2012.
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