Articles | Volume 11, issue 3
Research article
01 Feb 2011
Research article |  | 01 Feb 2011

Water content of aged aerosol

G. J. Engelhart, L. Hildebrandt, E. Kostenidou, N. Mihalopoulos, N. M. Donahue, and S. N. Pandis

Abstract. The composition and physical properties of aged atmospheric aerosol were characterized at a remote sampling site on the northern coast of Crete, Greece during the Finokalia Aerosol Measurement Experiment in May 2008 (FAME-2008). A reduced Dry-Ambient Aerosol Size Spectrometer (DAASS) was deployed to measure the aerosol water content and volumetric growth factor of fine particulate matter. The particles remained wet even at relative humidity (RH) as low as 20%. The aerosol was acidic during most of the measurement campaign, which likely contributed to the water uptake at low RH. The water content observations were compared to the thermodynamic model E-AIM, neglecting any contribution of the organics to aerosol water content. There was good agreement between the water measurements and the model predictions. Adding the small amount of water associated with the organic aerosol based on monoterpene water absorption did not change the quality of the agreement. These results strongly suggest that the water uptake by aged organic aerosol is relatively small (a few percent of the total water for the conditions during FAME-08) and generally consistent with what has been observed in laboratory experiments. The water concentration measured by a Q-AMS was well correlated with the DAASS measurements and in good agreement with the predicted values for the RH of the Q-AMS inlet. This suggests that, at least for the conditions of the study, the Q-AMS can provide valuable information about the aerosol water concentrations if the sample is not dried.

Final-revised paper