The hygroscopicity parameter (κ) of ambient organic aerosol at a field site subject to biogenic and anthropogenic influences: relationship to degree of aerosol oxidation
1Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
2Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Downsview, Canada
*now at: Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Downsview, Canada
Abstract. Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations were measured at Egbert, a rural site in Ontario, Canada during the spring of 2007. The CCN concentrations were compared to values predicted from the aerosol chemical composition and size distribution using κ-Köhler theory, with the specific goal of this work being to determine the hygroscopic parameter (κ) of the oxygenated organic component of the aerosol, assuming that oxygenation drives the hygroscopicity for the entire organic fraction of the aerosol. The hygroscopicity of the oxygenated fraction of the organic component, as determined by an Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS), was characterised by two methods. First, positive matrix factorization (PMF) was used to separate oxygenated and unoxygenated organic aerosol factors. By assuming that the unoxygenated factor is completely non-hygroscopic and by varying κ of the oxygenated factor so that the predicted and measured CCN concentrations are internally consistent and in good agreement, κ of the oxygenated organic factor was found to be 0.22±0.04 for the suite of measurements made during this five-week campaign. In a second, equivalent approach, we continue to assume that the unoxygenated component of the aerosol, with a mole ratio of atomic oxygen to atomic carbon (O/C) ≈ 0, is completely non-hygroscopic, and we postulate a simple linear relationship between κorg and O/C. Under these assumptions, the κ of the entire organic component for bulk aerosols measured by the AMS can be parameterised as κorg=(0.29±0.05)·(O/C), for the range of O/C observed in this study (0.3 to 0.6). These results are averaged over our five-week study at one location using only the AMS for composition analysis. Empirically, our measurements are consistent with κorg generally increasing with increasing particle oxygenation, but high uncertainties preclude us from testing this hypothesis. Lastly, we examine select periods of different aerosol composition, corresponding to different air mass histories, to determine the generality of the campaign-wide findings described above.