Articles | Volume 14, issue 21
Research article
14 Nov 2014
Research article |  | 14 Nov 2014

Forest canopy interactions with nucleation mode particles

S. C. Pryor, K. E. Hornsby, and K. A. Novick

Abstract. Ultrafine particle size distributions through a deciduous forest canopy indicate that nucleation mode particle concentrations decline with depth into the canopy, such that number concentrations at the bottom of the canopy are an average of 16% lower than those at the top. However, growth rates of nucleation mode particles (diameters 6–30 nm) are invariant with height within the canopy, which implies that the semi-volatile gases contributing to their growth are comparatively well-mixed through the canopy. Growth rates of nucleation mode particles during a meteorological drought year (2012) were substantially lower than during a meteorologically normal year with high soil water potential (2013). This may reflect suppression of actual biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions by drought and thus a reduction in the production of condensable products during the drought-affected vegetation season. This hypothesis is supported by evidence that growth rates during the normal year exhibit a positive correlation with emissions of BVOC modeled on observed forest composition, leaf area index, temperature and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), but particle growth rates during the drought-affected vegetation season are not correlated with modeled BVOC emissions. These data thus provide indirect evidence that drought stress in forests may reduce BVOC emissions and limit growth of nucleation mode particles to climate-relevant sizes.

Short summary
What role do forests play in determining the concentration (and composition) of climate-relevant aerosol particles? This study seeks to address two aspects of this question. Firstly, we document high in-canopy removal of recently formed particles. Then we show evidence that growth rates of particles are a function of soil water availability via a reduction in canopy emissions of gases responsible for particle growth to climate-relevant sizes during drought conditions.
Final-revised paper