Articles | Volume 13, issue 9
Research article
15 May 2013
Research article |  | 15 May 2013

Aerosol mixing state, hygroscopic growth and cloud activation efficiency during MIRAGE 2006

S. Lance, T. Raatikainen, T. B. Onasch, D. R. Worsnop, X.-Y. Yu, M. L. Alexander, M. R. Stolzenburg, P. H. McMurry, J. N. Smith, and A. Nenes

Abstract. Observations of aerosol hygroscopic growth and CCN activation spectra for submicron particles are reported for the T1 ground site outside of Mexico City during the MIRAGE 2006 campaign. κ-Köhler theory is used to evaluate the characteristic hygroscopicity parameter, κ*, for the CCN active aerosol population using both size-resolved HTMDA and size-resolved CCNc measurements. Organic mass fractions (forg) are evaluated from size-resolved aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements, from which predictions of the hygroscopicity parameter are compared against κ*.

Strong diurnal changes in aerosol water uptake parameters and aerosol composition are observed. We find that new particle formation (NPF) events are correlated with an increased κ* and CCN-active fraction during the daytime, with greater impact on smaller particles. During NPF events, the number concentration of 40 nm particles acting as CCN at 0.51% ± 0.06% supersaturation can surpass by more than a factor of two the corresponding concentrations of 100 nm particles. We also find that at 06:00–08:00 LT throughout the campaign, fresh traffic emissions result in substantial changes to the chemical distribution of the aerosol, with on average 65% externally mixed fraction for 40 nm particles and 30% externally mixed fraction for 100 nm particles, whereas at midday nearly all particles of both sizes can be described as "internally mixed".

Average activation spectra and growth factor distributions are analyzed for different time periods characterizing the daytime (with and without NPF events), the early morning "rush hour" and the entire campaign. We show that κ* derived from CCNc measurements decreases as a function of size during all time periods, while the CCN-active fraction increases as a function of size. Size-resolved AMS measurements do not predict the observed trend for κ* versus particle size, which can be attributed to unresolved mixing state and the presence of refractory material not measured by the AMS. Measured κ* typically ranges from 0.2 to 0.35, and organics typically make up 60–85 % of the aerosol mass in the size range studied. We show that κAMS is able to describe CCN concentrations reasonably well, provided mixing-state information is available, especially at the highest CCN concentrations. This is consistent with other CCN studies carried out in urban environments, and is partly due to the fact that the highest CCN concentrations occur during the daytime when the aerosol is internally mixed. During the early morning rush hour, however, failing to account for the aerosol mixing state results in systematic overestimation of CCN concentrations by as much as 50–100% on average.

Final-revised paper