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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-398
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-398
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  15 May 2020

15 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Impacts of coagulation on the appearance time method for sub-3 nm particle growth rate evaluation and their corrections

Runlong Cai1,2, Chenxi Li3, Xu-Cheng He2, Chenjuan Deng4, Yiqun Lu5, Rujing Yin4, Chao Yan1, Lin Wang5, Jingkun Jiang4, Markku Kulmala1,2, and Juha Kangasluoma1,2 Runlong Cai et al.
  • 1Aerosol and Haze Laboratory, Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Soft Matter Science and Engineering, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, 100029 Beijing, China
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research/Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 200240, China
  • 4State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, 100084 Beijing, China
  • 5Shanghai Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Particle Pollution and Prevention (LAP³), Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

Abstract. The growth rate of atmospheric new particles is a key parameter that determines their survival probability to become cloud condensation nuclei and hence their impact on the climate. There have been several methods to estimate the new particle growth rate. However, due to the impact of coagulation and measurement uncertainties, it is still challenging to estimate the initial growth rate of sub-3 nm particles, especially in polluted environments with high background aerosol concentrations. In this study, we explore the feasibility of the appearance time method to estimate the growth rate of sub-3 nm particles. The principle of the appearance time method and the impacts of coagulation on the retrieved growth rate are clarified. New formulae in both discrete and continuous spaces are proposed to correct the impacts of coagulation. Aerosol dynamic models are used to test the new formulae. New particle formation in urban Beijing is used to illustrate the importance to consider the impacts of coagulation on sub-3 nm particle growth rate and its calculation. We show that the conventional appearance time method needs to be corrected when the impacts of coagulation sink, coagulation source, and particle coagulation growth are non-negligible compared to the condensation growth. Under the simulation conditions with a constant vapor concentration, the corrected growth rate agrees with the theoretical growth rates. The variation of vapor concentration is found to impact growth rate obtained with the appearance time method. Under the simulation conditions with a varying vapor concentration, the average bias of the corrected 1.5–3 nm particle growth rate range from 6–44 %. During the test new particle formation event in urban Beijing, the corrected condensation growth rate of sub-3 nm particles was in accordance with the growth rate contributed by sulfuric acid condensation, whereas the conventional appearance time method overestimated the condensation growth rate of 1.5 nm particles by 80 %.

Runlong Cai et al.

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Short summary
Growth rate determines the survival probability of atmospheric new particles and hence their impacts. We clarify the impact of coagulation on the values retrieved by appearance time method, which is widely used for growth rate evaluation. A new formulae with coagulation correction is proposed based on derivation and tested using both models and atmospheric data. We show that the sub-3 nm particle growth rate in polluted environments may be overestimated without the coagulation correction.
Growth rate determines the survival probability of atmospheric new particles and hence their...
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