Some insights into the condensing vapors driving new particle growth to CCN sizes on the basis of hygroscopicity measurements
- 1State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
- 2Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
- 3Multiphase Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128 Mainz, Germany
Abstract. New particle formation (NPF) and growth is an important source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). In this study, we investigated the chemical species driving new particle growth to the CCN sizes on the basis of particle hygroscopicity measurements carried out at the research station Melpitz, Germany. Three consecutive NPF events occurred during summertime were chosen as examples to perform the study. Hygroscopicity measurements showed that the (NH4)2SO4-equivalent water-soluble fraction accounts for 20 and 16 % of 50 and 75 nm particles, respectively, during the NPF events. Numerical analysis showed that the ratios of H2SO4 condensational growth to the observed particle growth were 20 and 13 % for 50 and 75 nm newly formed particles, respectively. Aerosol mass spectrometer measurements showed that an enhanced mass fraction of sulfate and ammonium in the newly formed particles was observed when new particles grew to the sizes larger than 30 nm shortly after the particle formation period. At a later time, the secondary organic species played a key role in the particle growth. Both hygroscopicity and aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements and numerical analysis confirmed that organic compounds were major contributors driving particle growth to CCN sizes. The critical diameters at different supersaturations estimated using AMS data and κ-Köhler theory increased significantly during the later course of NPF events. This indicated that the enhanced organic mass fraction caused a reduction in CCN efficiency of newly formed particles. Our results implied that the CCN production associated with atmospheric nucleation may be overestimated if assuming that newly formed particles can serve as CCN once they grow to a fixed particle size, an assumption made in some previous studies, especially for organic-rich environments. In our study, the enhancement in CCN number concentration associated with individual NPF events were 63, 66, and 69 % for 0.1, 0.4, and 0.6 % supersaturation, respectively.