18 Oct 2021

18 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Frequent new particle formation at remote sites in the temperate/boreal forest of North America

Meinrat O. Andreae1,2,3, Tracey W. Andreae1, and Florian Ditas1,4 Meinrat O. Andreae et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA
  • 3Department of Geology and Geophysics, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • 4Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology, Wiesbaden, Germany

Abstract. The frequency and intensity of new particle formation (NPF) over remote forest regions in the temperate and boreal zones, and thus the importance of NPF for the aerosol budget and life cycle in the pristine atmosphere, remains controversial. Whereas NPF has been shown to occur relatively frequently at several sites in Scandinavia, it was found to be nearly absent at a mid-continental site in Siberia. To explore this issue further, we made measurements of aerosol size distributions between 10 and 420 nm diameter at two remote sites in the transition region between temperate and boreal forest in British Columbia, Canada. The measurements covered 23 days during the month of June 2019, at the time when NPF typically reaches its seasonal maximum in remote mid-latitude regions. These are the first such measurements in a near-pristine region on the North American continent. Although the sites were only 150 km apart, there were dramatic differences in NPF frequency and intensity between them. At the Eagle Lake site, NPF occurred daily and nucleation mode particle concentrations reached above 5000 cm−3. In contrast, at the Nazko River site, there were only 6 NPF events in 11 days and nucleation mode particle concentrations reached only about 800 cm−3. The reasons for this difference could not be conclusively resolved with the available data; they may include airmass origins, pre-existing aerosols, and the density and type of forest cover in the surrounding regions. Our results suggest that measurement campaigns in the remote forest regions of North America to investigate the role of NPF with a more comprehensive set of instrumentation are essential for a deeper scientific understanding of this important process.

Meinrat O. Andreae et al.

Status: open (until 01 Dec 2021)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-838', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Nov 2021 reply

Meinrat O. Andreae et al.

Data sets

Data for paper on new particle formation in British Columbia remote forest Meinrat O. Andreae

Meinrat O. Andreae et al.


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Short summary
Atmospheric aerosol particles are key players in the Earth’s climate system, but there is still considerable uncertainty about where and how these particles are initially formed. We present the first study of new particle formation (NPF) at a pristine site in a subboreal forest region of North America. Our data suggest that in this environment there is frequent NPF from biogenic organic precursor compounds, which was likely the predominant source of particles in the preindustrial environment.