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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Oct 2018

Research article | 08 Oct 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Characterization of nighttime formation of particulate organic nitrates based on high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometry in an urban atmosphere in China

Kuangyou Yu1,2,*, Qiao Zhu1,*, Ke Du2, and Xiao-Feng Huang1 Kuangyou Yu et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory for Urban Habitat Environmental Science and Technology, School of Environment and Energy, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, Shenzhen, 518055, China
  • 2Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Organic nitrates are important atmospheric species that significantly affect the cycling of NOx and ozone production. However, characterization of particulate organic nitrates and their sources in inorganic nitrate-abundant particles in polluted atmosphere is a big challenge, and has been little performed in the literature. In this study, an Aerodyne high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) was deployed at an urban site in South China from 2015 to 2016 to characterize particulate organic nitrates with high time resolution. Based on two different data processing methods, 13–21% of the total measured nitrates was identified to be organic nitrates in spring, 41–64% in summer and 16%–25% in autumn; however, in winter, most measured nitrates were inorganic. The good correlation between organic nitrates and fresh secondary organic aerosol identified by the positive matrix factorization method at night rather than in the daytime indicated a potentially important role of nighttime secondary formation. Therefore, we theoretically estimated nighttime NO3 radical concentrations and SOA formation using the various VOCs measured simultaneously. Consequently, the calculated products of monoterpene reacting with NO3 agreed well with the organic nitrates in terms of both concentration and variation, suggesting that the biogenic VOC reactions with NO3 at night are the dominant formation pathway for particulate organic nitrates in polluted atmosphere, despite of much higher abundance of anthropogenic VOCs.

Kuangyou Yu et al.
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Kuangyou Yu et al.
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Short summary
Organic nitrates are important atmospheric species as their fate could affect nitrogen cycle, ozone production and secondary organic aerosols, and few related studies focus on the region with high anthropogenic pollution. In this study, we find that the contribution of organic nitrates in the total measured nitrates is substantial during warm seasons and the biogenic VOC+NO3 chemistry plays a significant role in the formation of nighttime organic nitrates and secondary organic aerosols in China.
Organic nitrates are important atmospheric species as their fate could affect nitrogen cycle,...