Articles | Volume 10, issue 21
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 10255–10272, 2010

Special issue: European Integrated Project on Aerosol-Cloud-Climate and Air...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 10255–10272, 2010

Research article 03 Nov 2010

Research article | 03 Nov 2010

The sensitivity of secondary organic aerosol component partitioning to the predictions of component properties – Part 1: A systematic evaluation of some available estimation techniques

G. McFiggans, D. O. Topping, and M. H. Barley G. McFiggans et al.
  • Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

Abstract. A large number of calculations of the absorptive partitioning of organic compounds have been made using a number of methods to predict the component vapour pressures, p0, and activity coefficients, γi, required in the calculations. The sensitivities of the predictions in terms of the condensed component masses, volatility, O:C ratio, molar mass and functionality distributions to the choice of p0 and γi models and to the number of components to represent the organic mixture have been systematically compared. The condensed component mass was found to be highly sensitive to the vapour pressure model, and less sensitive to both the activity coefficient model and the number of components used to represent the mixture although the sensitivity to the change in property estimation method increased substantially with increased simplification in the treatment of the organic mixture. This was a general finding and was also clearly evident in terms of the predicted component functionality, O:C ratio, molar mass and volatility distributions of the condensed organic components. Within the limitations of the study, this clearly demonstrates the requirement for more accurate representation of the p0 and γi of the semi-volatile organic proxy components used in simplified models as the degree of simplification increases. This presents an interesting paradox, since such reduction in complexity necessarily leads to divergence from the complex behaviour of real multicomponent atmospheric aerosol.

Final-revised paper