The formation, properties and impact of secondary organic aerosol: current and emerging issues
Abstract. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) accounts for a significant fraction of ambient tropospheric aerosol and a detailed knowledge of the formation, properties and transformation of SOA is therefore required to evaluate its impact on atmospheric processes, climate and human health. The chemical and physical processes associated with SOA formation are complex and varied, and, despite considerable progress in recent years, a quantitative and predictive understanding of SOA formation does not exist and therefore represents a major research challenge in atmospheric science. This review begins with an update on the current state of knowledge on the global SOA budget and is followed by an overview of the atmospheric degradation mechanisms for SOA precursors, gas-particle partitioning theory and the analytical techniques used to determine the chemical composition of SOA. A survey of recent laboratory, field and modeling studies is also presented. The following topical and emerging issues are highlighted and discussed in detail: molecular characterization of biogenic SOA constituents, condensed phase reactions and oligomerization, the interaction of atmospheric organic components with sulfuric acid, the chemical and photochemical processing of organics in the atmospheric aqueous phase, aerosol formation from real plant emissions, interaction of atmospheric organic components with water, thermodynamics and mixtures in atmospheric models. Finally, the major challenges ahead in laboratory, field and modeling studies of SOA are discussed and recommendations for future research directions are proposed.