Articles | Volume 9, issue 10
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 3425–3442, 2009

Special issue: MILAGRO/INTEX-B 2006

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 3425–3442, 2009

  28 May 2009

28 May 2009

Emission and chemistry of organic carbon in the gas and aerosol phase at a sub-urban site near Mexico City in March 2006 during the MILAGRO study

J. A. de Gouw1,2, D. Welsh-Bon1,2, C. Warneke1,2, W. C. Kuster1, L. Alexander3, A. K. Baker4, A. J. Beyersdorf4,*, D. R. Blake4, M. Canagaratna5, A. T. Celada6, L. G. Huey7, W. Junkermann8, T. B. Onasch5, A. Salcido6, S. J. Sjostedt7,**, A. P. Sullivan7,***, D. J. Tanner7, O. Vargas7, R. J. Weber7, D. R. Worsnop5, X. Y. Yu3, and R. Zaveri3 J. A. de Gouw et al.
  • 1NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 4University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 5Aerodyne Research Inc., Billerica, MA, USA
  • 6Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
  • 7Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 8Research Center Karlsruhe – Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • *now with: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, USA
  • **now with: Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • ***now with: Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Abstract. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbonaceous aerosol were measured at a sub-urban site near Mexico City in March of 2006 during the MILAGRO study (Megacity Initiative: Local and Global Research Objectives). Diurnal variations of hydrocarbons, elemental carbon (EC) and hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol (HOA) were dominated by a high peak in the early morning when local emissions accumulated in a shallow boundary layer, and a minimum in the afternoon when the emissions were diluted in a significantly expanded boundary layer and, in case of the reactive gases, removed by OH. In comparison, diurnal variations of species with secondary sources such as the aldehydes, ketones, oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA) and water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) stayed relatively high in the afternoon indicating strong photochemical formation. Emission ratios of many hydrocarbon species relative to CO were higher in Mexico City than in the U.S., but we found similar emission ratios for most oxygenated VOCs and organic aerosol. Secondary formation of acetone may be more efficient in Mexico City than in the U.S., due to higher emissions of alkane precursors from the use of liquefied petroleum gas. Secondary formation of organic aerosol was similar between Mexico City and the U.S. Combining the data for all measured gas and aerosol species, we describe the budget of total observed organic carbon (TOOC), and find that the enhancement ratio of TOOC relative to CO is conserved between the early morning and mid afternoon despite large compositional changes. Finally, the influence of biomass burning is investigated using the measurements of acetonitrile, which was found to correlate with levoglucosan in the particle phase. Diurnal variations of acetonitrile indicate a contribution from local burning sources. Scatter plots of acetonitrile versus CO suggest that the contribution of biomass burning to the enhancement of most gas and aerosol species was not dominant and perhaps not dissimilar from observations in the U.S.

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