Articles | Volume 6, issue 12
12 Oct 2006
12 Oct 2006

The composition of nucleation and Aitken modes particles during coastal nucleation events: evidence for marine secondary organic contribution

P. Vaattovaara, P. E. Huttunen, Y. J. Yoon, J. Joutsensaari, K. E. J. Lehtinen, C. D. O'Dowd, and A. Laaksonen

Abstract. Newly-formed nanometer-sized particles have been observed at coastal and marine environments world wide. Organic species have so far not been detected in those newly-formed nucleation mode particles. In this study, we applied the ultrafine organic tandem differential mobility analyzer method to study the possible existence of an organic fraction in recently formed coastal nucleation mode particles (d<20 nm) at the Mace Head research station. Furthermore, effects of those nucleation events on potential cloud condensation nuclei were studied. The coastal events were typical for the Mace Head region and they occurred at low tide conditions during efficient solar radiation and enhanced biological activity in spring 2002. Additionally, a pulse height analyzer ultrafine condensation particle counter technique was used to study the composition of newly-formed particles formed in low tide conditions during a lower biological activity in October 2002. The overall results of the ultrafine organic tandem differential mobility analyzer and the pulse height analyzer ultrafine condensation particle counter measurements indicate that those coastally/marinely formed nucleation mode particles include a remarkable fraction of secondary organic products, beside iodine oxides, which are likely to be responsible for the nucleation. During clean marine air mass conditions, the origin of those secondary organic oxidation compounds can be related to marine coast and open ocean biota and thus a major fraction of the organics may originate from biosynthetic production of alkenes such as isoprene and their oxidation driven by iodine radicals, hydroxyl radicals, acid catalysis, and ozone during efficient solar radiation. During modified marine conditions, also anthropogenic secondary organic compounds may contribute to the nucleation mode organic mass, in addition to biogenic secondary organic compounds. Thus, the ultrafine organic tandem differential mobility analyzer results suggest that the secondary organic compounds may, in addition to being significant contributors to the nucleation mode processes, accelerate the growth of freshly nucleated particles and increase their survival probability to cloud condensation nuclei and even larger radiatively active particle sizes. The results give new insights to the marine/coastal particle formation, growth, and properties. The marine biota driven secondary organic contributions to marine/coastal particle formation and composition can be anticipated in other species specific biologically active oceans and fresh-waters areas around the world and thus, they may be significant also to the global radiative bugdet, atmosphere-biosphere feedbacks, and climate change.

Final-revised paper