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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-636
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-636
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 30 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 30 Jul 2019

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

High secondary formation of nitrogen-containing organics (NOCs) and its possible link to oxidized organics and ammonium

Guohua Zhang1, Xiufeng Lian1,2, Yuzhen Fu1,2, Qinhao Lin1, Lei Li3, Wei Song1, Zhanyong Wang4, Mingjin Tang1, Duohong Chen5, Xinhui Bi1, Xinming Wang1, and Guoying Sheng1 Guohua Zhang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry and Guangdong Key Laboratory of Environmental Resources Utilization and Protection, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, PR China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, PR China
  • 3Institute of Mass Spectrometer and Atmospheric Environment, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, PR China
  • 4School of Intelligent Systems Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Shenzhen 518107, PR China
  • 5State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Regional Air Quality Monitoring, Guangdong Environmental Monitoring Center, Guangzhou 510308, PR China

Abstract. Nitrogen-containing organic compounds (NOCs) substantially contribute to light absorbing organic aerosols, although the atmospheric processes responsible for the secondary formation of these compounds are poorly understood. In this study, seasonal atmospheric processing of NOCs were investigated by single particle mass spectrometry in urban Guangzhou from 2013–2014. The relative abundance of NOCs was found to be strongly enhanced by internal mixing with the photochemically produced secondary oxidized organics (such as formate, acetate, pyruvate, methylglyoxal, glyoxylate, oxalate, malonate and succinate). Furthermore, the co-occurrence of NOCs with ammonium was also observed. Interestingly, the relative abundance of NOCs was inversely correlated with ammonium, while their number fractions were positively correlated. Multiple linear regression analysis and positive matrix factorization analysis were performed to predict the relative abundance of NOCs generated from oxidized organics and ammonium. Both results showed close associations (R2 > 0.7, p < 0.01) between the predicted NOCs and the observed values. Increased humidity and higher particle acidity were found to promote the production of NOCs. Higher relative contributions of NOCs were observed in summer and autumn, in comparison to spring and winter, due to the relatively higher contribution of oxidized organics and NH3/NH+4 in summer and autumn periods. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first direct field observation study establishing a close association between NOCs and both oxidized organics and ammonium. These findings have substantial implications on the role of ammonium in the atmosphere, particularly in models predicting the evolution and deposition of NOCs.

Guohua Zhang et al.
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