Articles | Volume 8, issue 23
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 7255–7264, 2008
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 7255–7264, 2008

  10 Dec 2008

10 Dec 2008

SO2 oxidation products other than H2SO4 as a trigger of new particle formation. Part 2: Comparison of ambient and laboratory measurements, and atmospheric implications

A. Laaksonen7,1, M. Kulmala2, T. Berndt3, F. Stratmann3, S. Mikkonen1, A. Ruuskanen1, K. E. J. Lehtinen7,1, M. Dal Maso2, P. Aalto2, T. Petäjä2, I. Riipinen2, S.-L. Sihto2, R. Janson4, F. Arnold5, M. Hanke5, J. Ücker5, B. Umann5, K. Sellegri5,*, C. D. O'Dowd6, and Y. Viisanen7 A. Laaksonen et al.
  • 1University of Kuopio, Department of Physics, POB 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
  • 2University of Helsinki, Department of Physical Sciences, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Leibniz-Institut für Troposphärenforschung e.V., Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Stockholm University, Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Atmospheric Science Unit, 10691, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 6National University of Ireland, Galway, Department of Physics
  • 7Finnish Meteorological Institute, POB 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • *now at: Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique (LaMP), Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand (OPGC), UMR 6016 CNRS, France

Abstract. Atmospheric new particle formation is generally thought to occur due to homogeneous or ion-induced nucleation of sulphuric acid. We compare ambient nucleation rates with laboratory data from nucleation experiments involving either sulphuric acid or oxidized SO2. Atmospheric nucleation occurs at H2SO4 concentrations 2–4 orders of magnitude lower than binary or ternary nucleation rates of H2SO4 produced from a liquid reservoir, and atmospheric H2SO4 concentrations are very well replicated in the SO2 oxidation experiments. We hypothesize these features to be due to the formation of free HSO5 radicals in pace with H2SO4 during the SO2 oxidation. We suggest that at temperatures above ~250 K these radicals produce nuclei of new aerosols much more efficiently than H2SO4. These nuclei are activated to further growth by H2SO4 and possibly other trace species. However, at lower temperatures the atmospheric relative acidity is high enough for the H2SO4–H2O nucleation to dominate.

Final-revised paper