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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-34
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
31 Jan 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
Characterization of organic nitrogen in aerosols at a forest site in the southern Appalachian Mountains
Xi Chen1, Mingjie Xie2,a, Michael D. Hays1, Eric Edgerton3, Donna Schwede4, and John T. Walker1 1National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 27711, USA
2Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 27711, USA
3Atmospheric Research and Analysis, Inc., Cary, NC, 27513
4National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 27711, USA
apresent address: School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
Abstract. This study investigates the composition of organic particulate matter in a remote montane forest in the southeastern U.S., focusing on the role of organic nitrogen (N) in sulfur-containing secondary organic aerosol (nitrooxy-organosulfates) and aerosols associated with biomass burning (nitro-aromatics). Bulk water soluble organic N (WSON) represented ~ 14 % w/w of water soluble total N (WSTN) in PM2.5, on average, across seasonal measurement campaigns conducted in the spring, summer, and fall of 2015. Largest contributions of WSON to WSTN were observed in spring (~ 18 % w/w) and lowest in the fall (~ 10 % w/w). On average, identified nitro-aromatic and nitrooxy-organosulfate compounds accounted for a small fraction of WSON, ranging from ~ 1 % in spring to ~ 4 % in fall, though were observed to contribute as much as 28 % w/w of WSON in individual samples. Highest concentrations of oxidized organic N species occurred during summer (average of 0.65 ngN/m3) along with a greater relative abundance of higher generation oxygenated terpenoic acids, indicating an association with more aged aerosol. Highest concentrations of nitro-aromatics (e.g. nitrocatechol and methyl-nitrocatechol), levoglucosan, and aged SOA tracers were observed during fall, associated with aged biomass burning plumes. Nighttime nitrate radical chemistry is the most likely formation pathway for nitrooxy-organosulfates observed at this low NOx site (generally < 1 ppb). Isoprene derived organosulfate (MW216, 2-methyltetrol derived), which is formed from isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX) under low NOx conditions, was the most abundant individual organosulfate. Concentration weighted average N / C ratios for nitro-aromatics + organosulfates + terpenoic acids were one order of magnitude lower than the overall aerosol N / C ratio, indicating the presence of other uncharacterized higher N content species. Although nitrooxy-organosulfates and nitro-aromatics contributed a small fraction of WSON, our results provide new insight into the atmospheric formation processes and sources of these largely uncharacterized components of atmospheric organic N, which also helps to advance the atmospheric models to better understand the chemistry and deposition of reactive N.

Citation: Chen, X., Xie, M., Hays, M. D., Edgerton, E., Schwede, D., and Walker, J. T.: Characterization of organic nitrogen in aerosols at a forest site in the southern Appalachian Mountains, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-34, in review, 2018.
Xi Chen et al.
Xi Chen et al.

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