Articles | Volume 15, issue 2
Research article
16 Jan 2015
Research article |  | 16 Jan 2015

Multiday production of condensing organic aerosol mass in urban and forest outflow

J. Lee-Taylor, A. Hodzic, S. Madronich, B. Aumont, M. Camredon, and R. Valorso

Abstract. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) production in air masses containing either anthropogenic or biogenic (terpene-dominated) emissions is investigated using the explicit gas-phase chemical mechanism generator GECKO-A. Simulations show several-fold increases in SOA mass continuing for multiple days in the urban outflow, even as the initial air parcel is diluted into the regional atmosphere. The SOA mass increase in the forest outflow is more modest (~50%) and of shorter duration (1–2 days). The multiday production in the urban outflow stems from continuing oxidation of gas-phase precursors which persist in equilibrium with the particle phase, and can be attributed to multigenerational reaction products of both aromatics and alkanes, especially those with relatively low carbon numbers (C4–15). In particular we find large contributions from substituted maleic anhydrides and multi-substituted peroxide-bicyclic alkenes. The results show that the predicted production is a robust feature of our model even under changing atmospheric conditions and different vapor pressure schemes, and contradict the notion that SOA undergoes little mass production beyond a short initial formation period. The results imply that anthropogenic aerosol precursors could influence the chemical and radiative characteristics of the atmosphere over an extremely wide region, and that SOA measurements near precursor sources may routinely underestimate this influence.

Final-revised paper