Articles | Volume 14, issue 20
Research article
16 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 16 Oct 2014

Trends in particle-phase liquid water during the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study

T. K. V. Nguyen, M. D. Petters, S. R. Suda, H. Guo, R. J. Weber, and A. G. Carlton

Abstract. We present in situ measurements of particle-phase liquid water. Measurements were conducted from 3 June to 15 July 2013 during the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) in the southeastern US. The region is photochemically active, humid, dominated by biogenic emissions, impacted by anthropogenic pollution, and known to contain high concentrations of organic aerosol mass. Measurements characterized mobility number size distributions of ambient atmospheric aerosols in three states: unperturbed, dry, and dry-humidified. Unperturbed measurements describe the aerosol distribution at ambient temperature and relative humidity. For the dry state, the sample was routed through a cold trap upstream of the inlet then reheated, while for the dry-humidified state the sample was rehumidified after drying. The total volume of water and semi-volatile compounds lost during drying was quantified by differencing dry and unperturbed volumes from the integrated size spectra, while semi-volatile volumes lost during drying were quantified differencing unperturbed and dry-humidified volumes. Results indicate that particle-phase liquid water was always present. Throughout the SOAS campaign, median water mass concentrations at the relative humidity (RH) encountered in the instrument typically ranged from 1 to 5 μg m−3 but were as high as 73 μg m−3. On non-raining days, morning time (06:00–09:00) median mass concentrations exceeded 15 μg m−3. Hygroscopic growth factors followed a diel cycle and exceed 2 from 07:00 to 09:00 local time. The hygroscopicity parameter kappa ranged from 0.14 to 0.46 and hygroscopicity increased with increasing particle size. An observed diel cycle in kappa is consistent with changes in aerosol inorganic content and a dependency of the hygroscopicity parameter on water content. Unperturbed and dry-humidified aerosol volumes did not result in statistically discernible differences, demonstrating that drying did not lead to large losses in dry particle volume. We anticipate that our results will help improve the representation of aerosol water content and aqueous-phase-mediated partitioning of atmospheric water-soluble gases in photochemical models.

Final-revised paper