1Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, 94720-8198, USA
2Currently at Department of Chemistry, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA 95211, USA
3University of Würzburg, Department of Physics, Am Hu-bland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
4Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, 99352, USA
5W. R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, 99352, USA
Abstract. Carbonaceous aerosols are responsible for large uncertainties in climate models, degraded visibility, and adverse health effects. The Carbonaceous Aerosols and Radiative Effects Study (CARES) was designed to study carbonaceous aerosols in the natural environment of Central Valley, California, and learn more about their atmospheric formation and aging. This paper presents results from spectro-microscopic measurements of carbonaceous particles collected during CARES at the time of pollution accumulation event (27–29 June 2010), when in situ measurements indicated an increase in the organic carbon content of aerosols as the Sacramento urban plume aged. Computer controlled scanning electron microscopy coupled with an energy dispersive X-ray detector (CCSEM/EDX) and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy coupled with near edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (STXM/NEXAFS) were used to probe the chemical composition and morphology of individual particles. It was found that the mass of organic carbon on individual particles increased through condensation of secondary organic aerosol. STXM/NEXAFS indicated that the number fraction of homogenous organic particles lacking inorganic inclusions (greater than ~50 nm diameter) increased with plume age as did the organic mass per particle. Comparison of the CARES spectro-microscopic data set with a similar dataset obtained in Mexico City during the MILAGRO campaign showed that individual particles in Mexico City contained twice as much carbon as those sampled during CARES. The number fraction of soot particles at the Mexico City urban site (30%) was larger than at the CARES urban site (10%) and the most aged samples from CARES contained less carbon-carbon double bonds. Differences between carbonaceous particles in Mexico City and California result from different sources, photochemical conditions, gas phase reactants, and secondary organic aerosol precursors. The detailed results provided by these spectro-microscopic measurements will allow for a comprehensive evaluation of aerosol process models used in climate research.