Articles | Volume 11, issue 15
Research article
10 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 10 Aug 2011

Elucidating determinants of aerosol composition through particle-type-based receptor modeling

M. L. McGuire, C.-H. Jeong, J. G. Slowik, R. Y.-W. Chang, J. C. Corbin, G. Lu, C. Mihele, P. J. G. Rehbein, D. M. L. Sills, J. P. D. Abbatt, J. R. Brook, and G. J. Evans

Abstract. An aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS) was deployed at a semi-rural site in southern Ontario to characterize the size and chemical composition of individual particles. Particle-type-based receptor modelling of these data was used to investigate the determinants of aerosol chemical composition in this region. Individual particles were classified into particle-types and positive matrix factorization (PMF) was applied to their temporal trends to separate and cross-apportion particle-types to factors. The extent of chemical processing for each factor was assessed by evaluating the internal and external mixing state of the characteristic particle-types. The nine factors identified helped to elucidate the coupled interactions of these determinants. Nitrate-laden dust was found to be the dominant type of locally emitted particles measured by ATOFMS. Several factors associated with aerosol transported to the site from intermediate local-to-regional distances were identified: the Organic factor was associated with a combustion source to the north-west; the ECOC Day factor was characterized by nearby local-to-regional carbonaceous emissions transported from the south-west during the daytime; and the Fireworks factor consisted of pyrotechnic particles from the Detroit region following holiday fireworks displays. Regional aerosol from farther emissions sources was reflected through three factors: two Biomass Burning factors and a highly chemically processed Long Range Transport factor. The Biomass Burning factors were separated by PMF due to differences in chemical processing which were in part elucidated by the passage of two thunderstorm gust fronts with different air mass histories. The remaining two factors, ECOC Night and Nitrate Background, represented the night-time partitioning of nitrate to pre-existing particles of different origins. The distinct meteorological conditions observed during this month-long study in the summer of 2007 provided a unique range of temporal variability, enabling the elucidation of the determinants of aerosol chemical composition, including source emissions, chemical processing, and transport, at the Canada-US border. This paper presents the first study to elucidate the coupled influences of these determinants on temporal variability in aerosol chemical composition using single particle-type-based receptor modelling.

Final-revised paper