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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2017-1084
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Dec 2017

Research article | 04 Dec 2017

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Cloud droplet activation of black carbon particles coated with organic compounds of varying solubility

Maryam Dalirian1, Arttu Ylisirniö2, Angela Buchholz2, Daniel Schlesinger1, Johan Ström1, Annele Virtanen2, and Ilona Riipinen1 Maryam Dalirian et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES) and the Bolin Centre for Climate research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

Abstract. Atmospheric black carbon (BC) particles are a concern due to their impact on air quality and climate. Their net climate effect is, however, still uncertain. This uncertainty is partly related to the contribution of coated BC-particles to the global CCN budgets. In this study, laboratory measurements were performed to investigate cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity of BC (Regal black) particles, in pure state or coated through evaporating and subsequent condensation of glutaric acid, levoglucosan (both water-soluble organics) or oleic acid (an organic compound with low solubility). A combination of Soot Particle Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (SP-AMS) measurements and size distribution measurements with Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) showed that the studied BC particles were nearly spherical agglomerates with a fractal dimension of 2.79 and that they were coated evenly by the organic species. The CCN activity of BC particles increased after coating with all the studied compounds and was governed by the fraction of organic material. The CCN activation of the BC particles coated by glutaric acid and levoglucosan were in good agreement with the theoretical calculations using shell-and-core model, which is based on a combination of the CCN activities of the pure compounds. The oleic acid coating enhanced the CCN activity of the BC particles, even though the pure oleic acid particles were CCN inactive. The surprising effect of oleic acid might be related to the arrangement of the oleic acid molecules on the surface of the BC cores or other surface phenomena facilitating water condensation onto the coated particles. Our results show potential in accurately predicting the CCN activity of atmospheric BC coated with organic species by present theories, given that the identities and amount of the coating species are known. Furthermore, our results suggest that even relatively thin soluble coatings (around 2nm for the compounds studied here) are enough to make the insoluble BC particles CCN active at typical atmospheric supersaturations and thus be efficiently taken up by cloud droplets. This highlights the need of an accurate description of the composition of atmospheric particles containing BC to unravel their net impact on climate.

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Maryam Dalirian et al.
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Status: closed
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Maryam Dalirian et al.
Maryam Dalirian et al.
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