Articles | Volume 11, issue 6
Research article
31 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 31 Mar 2011

Photochemical processing of organic aerosol at nearby continental sites: contrast between urban plumes and regional aerosol

J. G. Slowik, J. Brook, R. Y.-W. Chang, G. J. Evans, K. Hayden, C.-H. Jeong, S.-M. Li, J. Liggio, P. S. K. Liu, M. McGuire, C. Mihele, S. Sjostedt, A. Vlasenko, and J. P. D. Abbatt

Abstract. As part of the BAQS-Met 2007 field campaign, Aerodyne time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometers (ToF-AMS) were deployed at two sites in southwestern Ontario from 17 June to 11 July 2007. One instrument was located at Harrow, ON, a rural, agriculture-dominated area approximately 40 km southeast of the Detroit/Windsor/Windsor urban area and 5 km north of Lake Erie. The second instrument was located at Bear Creek, ON, a rural site approximately 70 km northeast of the Harrow site and 50 km east of Detroit/Windsor. Positive matrix factorization analysis of the combined organic mass spectral dataset yields factors related to secondary organic aerosol (SOA), direct emissions, and a factor tentatively attributed to the reactive uptake of isoprene and/or condensation of its early generation reaction products. This is the first application of PMF to simultaneous AMS measurements at different sites, an approach which allows for self-consistent, direct comparison of the datasets. Case studies are utilized to investigate processing of SOA from (1) fresh emissions from Detroit/Windsor and (2) regional aerosol during periods of inter-site flow. A strong correlation is observed between SOA/excess CO and photochemical age as represented by the NOx/NOy ratio for Detroit/Windsor outflow. Although this correlation is not evident for more aged air, measurements at the two sites during inter-site transport nevertheless show evidence of continued atmospheric processing by SOA production. However, the rate of SOA production decreases with airmass age from an initial value of ~10.1 μg m−3 ppmvCO−1 h−1 for the first ~10 h of plume processing to near-zero in an aged airmass (i.e. after several days). The initial SOA production rate is comparable to the observed rate in Mexico City over similar timescales.

Final-revised paper