Articles | Volume 12, issue 9
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 4297–4312, 2012

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

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 4297–4312, 2012

Research article 15 May 2012

Research article | 15 May 2012

New insights into nocturnal nucleation

I. K. Ortega1, T. Suni1, M. Boy1, T. Grönholm1, H. E. Manninen1, T. Nieminen1, M. Ehn1, H. Junninen1, H. Hakola2, H. Hellén2, T. Valmari3, H. Arvela3, S. Zegelin4, D. Hughes4, M. Kitchen4, H. Cleugh4, D. R. Worsnop1, M. Kulmala1, and V.-M. Kerminen1 I. K. Ortega et al.
  • 1Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics, P.O. Box 64, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Finnish meteorological institute, Air Chemistry Laboratory, P.O. Box 503, 00 101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3STUK, Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, P.O. Box 14, 00881 Helsinki, Finland
  • 4CSIRO – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Marine and atmospheric research, P.O. Box 3023, ACT 2604, Canberra, Australia

Abstract. Formation of new aerosol particles by nucleation and growth is a significant source of aerosols in the atmosphere. New particle formation events usually take place during daytime, but in some locations they have been observed also at night. In the present study we have combined chamber experiments, quantum chemical calculations and aerosol dynamics models to study nocturnal new particle formation. All our approaches demonstrate, in a consistent manner, that the oxidation products of monoterpenes play an important role in nocturnal nucleation events. By varying the conditions in our chamber experiments, we were able to reproduce the very different types of nocturnal events observed earlier in the atmosphere. The exact strength, duration and shape of the events appears to be sensitive to the type and concentration of reacting monoterpenes, as well as the extent to which the monoterpenes are exposed to ozone and potentially other atmospheric oxidants.

Final-revised paper