Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 8, 9179-9207, 2008
© Author(s) 2008. 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.
Internally mixed soot, sulfates, and organic matter in aerosol particles from Mexico City
K. Adachi1,2 and P. R. Buseck1,2
1School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
2Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

Abstract. Soot particles are major aerosol constituents that result from emissions of burning of fossil fuel and biomass. Because they both absorb sunlight and contribute to cloud formation, they are an influence on climate on local, regional, and global scales. It is therefore important to evaluate their optical and hygroscopic properties and those effects on the radiation budget. Those properties commonly change through reaction with other particles or gases, resulting in complex internal mixtures. Using transmission electron microscopy, we measured ~8000 particles (25 samples) with aerodynamic diameters from 0.05 to 0.3 μm that were collected in March 2006 from aircraft over Mexico City (MC) and adjacent areas. More than 50% of the particles consist of internally mixed soot, organic matter, and sulfate. Imaging combined with chemical analysis of individual particles show that many are coated, consist of aggregates, or both. Coatings on soot particles can amplify their light absorption, and coagulation with sulfates changes their hygroscopic properties, resulting in shorter lifetime. Our results suggest that a mixture of materials from multiple sources such as vehicles, power plants, and biomass burning occurs in individual particles, thereby increasing their complexity. Through changes in their optical and hygroscopic properties, internally mixed soot particles have a greater effect on the regional climate than uncoated soot particles. Moreover, soot occurs in more than 60% of all particles in the MC plumes, suggesting its important role in the formation of secondary aerosol particles.

Citation: Adachi, K. and Buseck, P. R.: Internally mixed soot, sulfates, and organic matter in aerosol particles from Mexico City, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 8, 9179-9207, doi:10.5194/acpd-8-9179-2008, 2008.
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