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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-326
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-326
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Apr 2019

Submitted as: research article | 09 Apr 2019

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

Secondary organic aerosol formation from biomass burning emissions

Christopher Y. Lim1, David H. Hagan1, Matthew M. Coggon2,3, Abigail R. Koss2,3,4,a, Kanako Sekimoto2,3,5, Joost de Gouw2,4, Carsten Warneke2,3, Christopher D. Cappa6, and Jesse H. Kroll1 Christopher Y. Lim et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Chemical Sciences Division, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4Department of Chemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 5Graduate School of Nanobioscience, Yokohama City University, Yokohama, Japan
  • 6Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
  • anow at: Departmentof Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Abstract. Biomass burning is an important source of aerosol and trace gases to the atmosphere, but how these emissions change chemically during their lifetimes is not fully understood. As part of the Fire Influence on Regional and Global Environments Experiment (FIREX 2016), we investigated the effect of photochemical aging on biomass burning organic aerosol (BBOA), with a focus on fuels from the western United States. Emissions were sampled into a small (150 L) environmental chamber and photochemically aged via the addition of ozone and irradiation by 254 nm light. While some fraction of species undergoes photolysis, the vast majority of aging occurs via reaction with OH radicals, with total OH exposures corresponding to the equivalent of up to 10 days of atmospheric oxidation. For all fuels burned, large and rapid changes are seen in the ensemble chemical composition of BBOA, as measured by an aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS). Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation is seen for all aging experiments and continues to grow with increasing OH exposure, but the magnitude of the SOA formation is highly variable between experiments. This variability can be explained well by a combination of experiment-to-experiment differences in OH exposure and the total concentration of non-methane organic gases (NMOGs) in the chamber before oxidation, measured by PTR-ToF-MS (r2 values from 0.64 to 0.83). From this relationship, we calculate the fraction of carbon from biomass burning NMOGs that is converted to SOA as a function of equivalent atmospheric aging time, with carbon yields ranging from 24 ± 4 % after 6 hours to 56 ± 9 % after 4 days.

Christopher Y. Lim et al.
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Short summary
Wildfires are a large source of gases and particles to the atmosphere, both of which impact human health and climate. The amount and composition of particles from wildfires can change with time in the atmosphere; however, the impact of aging is not well understood. In a series of controlled laboratory experiments, we show that the particles are oxidized and a significant fraction of the gas-phase carbon (24–56 %) is converted to particles over the course of several days in the atmosphere.
Wildfires are a large source of gases and particles to the atmosphere, both of which impact...
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