29 Jul 2022
29 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Survival probability of atmospheric new particles: closure between theory and measurements from 1.4 to 100 nm

Runlong Cai1, Chenjuan Deng2, Dominik Stolzenburg1, Chenxi Li3, Junchen Guo2, Veli-Matti Kerminen1, Jingkun Jiang2, Markku Kulmala1,4, and Juha Kangasluoma1,5 Runlong Cai et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research / Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00014, Finland
  • 2State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
  • 3School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200240, China
  • 4Aerosol and Haze Laboratory, Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Soft Matter Science and Engineering, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 5Karsa Ltd., A. I. Virtasen aukio 1, Helsinki, 00560, Finland

Abstract. The survival probability of freshly nucleated particles governs the influences of new particle formation (NPF) on atmospheric environments and the climate. It characterizes the probability of a particle to avoid being scavenged by the coagulation with pre-existing particles and other scavenging processes before the particle successfully grows up to a certain diameter. Despite its importance, measuring the survival probability has been challenging, which limits the knowledge of particle survival in the atmosphere and results in large uncertainties in predicting the influences of NPF. Here we report the proper methods to retrieve particle survival probability of the measured aerosol size distributions at different particle sizes. Using diverse aerosol size distributions from urban Beijing, the Finnish boreal forest, a chamber experiment, and aerosol kinetic simulations, we demonstrate that each method is valid for a different type of aerosol size distributions whereas misapplying the conventional methods to banana-type NPF events may underestimate the survival probability. Using these methods, we investigate the consistency between the measured survival probability of new particles and the theoretical survival probability against coagulation scavenging predicted using the measured growth rate and coagulation sink. With case-by-case and time- and size-resolved analysis of long-term measurement data from urban Beijing, we find that although both the measured and theoretical survival probabilities are sensitive to uncertainties and variations, they are, on average, consistent with each other for new particles growing from 1.4 nm (the cluster size) to 100 nm.

Runlong Cai et al.

Status: open (until 09 Sep 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Runlong Cai et al.

Runlong Cai et al.


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Short summary
The survival probability of new particles is the key parameter governing their influences on the atmosphere and climate, yet the knowledge of particle survival in the atmosphere is rather limited. We propose methods to compute the size-resolved particle survival probability and validate them using simulations and measurements from diverse environments. Using these methods, we could explain particle survival from the cluster size to the cloud condensation nuclei size.