Articles | Volume 16, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1123–1138, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 1123–1138, 2016

Research article 01 Feb 2016

Research article | 01 Feb 2016

Particle hygroscopicity and its link to chemical composition in the urban atmosphere of Beijing, China, during summertime

Z. J. Wu1, J. Zheng1, D. J. Shang1, Z. F. Du1, Y. S. Wu1, L. M. Zeng1, A. Wiedensohler2, and M. Hu1 Z. J. Wu et al.
  • 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

Abstract. Simultaneous measurements of particle number size distribution, particle hygroscopic properties, and size-resolved chemical composition were made during the summer of 2014 in Beijing, China. During the measurement period, the mean hygroscopicity parameters (κs) of 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 nm particles were respectively 0.16  ±  0.07, 0.19  ±  0.06, 0.22  ±  0.06, 0.26  ±  0.07, and 0.28  ±  0.10, showing an increasing trend with increasing particle size. Such size dependency of particle hygroscopicity was similar to that of the inorganic mass fraction in PM1. The hydrophilic mode (hygroscopic growth factor, HGF  >  1.2) was more prominent in growth factor probability density distributions and its dominance of hydrophilic mode became more pronounced with increasing particle size. When PM2.5 mass concentration was greater than 50 μg m−3, the fractions of the hydrophilic mode for 150, 250, and 350 nm particles increased towards 1 as PM2.5 mass concentration increased. This indicates that aged particles dominated during severe pollution periods in the atmosphere of Beijing. Particle hygroscopic growth can be well predicted using high-time-resolution size-resolved chemical composition derived from aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements using the Zdanovskii–Stokes–Robinson (ZSR) mixing rule. The organic hygroscopicity parameter (κorg) showed a positive correlation with the oxygen to carbon ratio. During the new particle formation event associated with strongly active photochemistry, the hygroscopic growth factor or κ of newly formed particles is greater than for particles with the same sizes not during new particle formation (NPF) periods. A quick transformation from external mixture to internal mixture for pre-existing particles (for example, 250 nm particles) was observed. Such transformations may modify the state of the mixture of pre-existing particles and thus modify properties such as the light absorption coefficient and cloud condensation nuclei activation.

Short summary
Most pre-existing measurements lack a linkage between particle hygroscopicity and chemical composition with a high time resolution in China. Our work provided a general overview of particle hygroscopicity and its closure with chemical composition on the basis of HTDMA and AMS measurements. An increase in particle hygroscopicity with increasing air pollution level was found, as well as a quick transformation from external mixtures to internal mixtures for pre-existing particles during NPF events.
Final-revised paper