Articles | Volume 13, issue 13
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 6637–6646, 2013

Special issue: HCCT-2010: a complex ground-based experiment on aerosol-cloud...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 6637–6646, 2013

Research article 12 Jul 2013

Research article | 12 Jul 2013

Particle hygroscopicity during atmospheric new particle formation events: implications for the chemical species contributing to particle growth

Z. Wu, W. Birmili, L. Poulain, Z. Wang, M. Merkel, B. Fahlbusch, D. van Pinxteren, H. Herrmann, and A. Wiedensohler Z. Wu et al.
  • Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. This study examines the hygroscopicity of newly formed particles (diameters range 25–45 nm) during two atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) events in the German mid-level mountains during the Hill Cap Cloud Thuringia 2010 (HCCT-2010) field experiment. At the end of the NPF event involving clear particle growth, we measured an unusually high soluble particle fraction of 58.5% at 45 nm particle size. The particle growth rate contributed through sulfuric acid condensation only accounts for around 6.5% of the observed growth rate. Estimations showed that sulfuric acid condensation explained, however, only around 10% of that soluble particle fraction. Therefore, the formation of additional water-soluble matter appears imperative to explain the missing soluble fraction. Although direct evidence is missing, we consider water-soluble organics as candidates for this mechanism. For the case with clear growth process, the particle growth rate was determined by two alternative methods based on tracking the mode diameter of the nucleation mode. The mean particle growth rate obtained from the inter-site data comparison using Lagrangian consideration is 3.8 (± 2.6) nm h−1. During the same period, the growth rate calculated based on one site data is 5.0 nm h−1 using log-normal distribution function method. In light of the fact that considerable uncertainties could be involved in both methods, we consider both estimated growth rates consistent.

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