Articles | Volume 13, issue 17
Research article
03 Sep 2013
Research article |  | 03 Sep 2013

Secondary aerosol formation from stress-induced biogenic emissions and possible climate feedbacks

Th. F. Mentel, E. Kleist, S. Andres, M. Dal Maso, T. Hohaus, A. Kiendler-Scharr, Y. Rudich, M. Springer, R. Tillmann, R. Uerlings, A. Wahner, and J. Wildt

Abstract. Atmospheric aerosols impact climate by scattering and absorbing solar radiation and by acting as ice and cloud condensation nuclei. Biogenic secondary organic aerosols (BSOAs) comprise an important component of atmospheric aerosols. Biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) emitted by vegetation are the source of BSOAs. Pathogens and insect attacks, heat waves and droughts can induce stress to plants that may impact their BVOC emissions, and hence the yield and type of formed BSOAs, and possibly their climatic effects. This raises questions of whether stress-induced changes in BSOA formation may attenuate or amplify effects of climate change. In this study we assess the potential impact of stress-induced BVOC emissions on BSOA formation for tree species typical for mixed deciduous and Boreal Eurasian forests. We studied the photochemical BSOA formation for plants infested by aphids in a laboratory setup under well-controlled conditions and applied in addition heat and drought stress. The results indicate that stress conditions substantially modify BSOA formation and yield. Stress-induced emissions of sesquiterpenes, methyl salicylate, and C17-BVOCs increase BSOA yields. Mixtures including these compounds exhibit BSOA yields between 17 and 33%, significantly higher than mixtures containing mainly monoterpenes (4–6% yield). Green leaf volatiles suppress SOA formation, presumably by scavenging OH, similar to isoprene. By classifying emission types, stressors and BSOA formation potential, we discuss possible climatic feedbacks regarding aerosol effects. We conclude that stress situations for plants due to climate change should be considered in climate–vegetation feedback mechanisms.

Final-revised paper