Articles | Volume 14, issue 16
Research article
26 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 26 Aug 2014

New-particle formation, growth and climate-relevant particle production in Egbert, Canada: analysis from 1 year of size-distribution observations

J. R. Pierce, D. M. Westervelt, S. A. Atwood, E. A. Barnes, and W. R. Leaitch

Abstract. Aerosol particle nucleation, or new-particle formation, is the dominant contributor to particle number in the atmosphere. However, these particles must grow through condensation of low-volatility vapors without coagulating with the larger, preexisting particles in order to reach climate-relevant sizes (diameters larger than 50–100 nm), where the particles may affect clouds and radiation. In this paper, we use 1 year of size-distribution measurements from Egbert, Ontario, Canada to calculate the frequency of regional-scale new-particle-formation events, new-particle-formation rates, growth rates and the fraction of new particles that survive to reach climate-relevant sizes. Regional-scale new-particle-formation events occur on 14–31% of the days (depending on the stringency of the classification criteria), with event frequency peaking in the spring and fall. New-particle-formation rates and growth rates are similar to those measured at other midlatitude continental sites. We calculate that roughly half of the climate-relevant particles (with diameters larger than 50–100 nm) at Egbert are formed through new-particle-formation events. With the addition of meteorological and SO2 measurements, we find that new-particle formation at Egbert often occurs under synoptic conditions associated with high surface pressure and large-scale subsidence that cause sunny conditions and clean-air flow from the north and west. However, new-particle formation also occurs when air flows from the polluted regions to the south and southwest of Egbert. The new-particle-formation rates tend to be faster during events under the polluted south/southwest flow conditions.

Final-revised paper