1Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
3Department of Chemistry, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
4Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
5Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
6State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China
7School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA
8Hohenpeissenberg Meteorological Observatory, German Meteorological Service, Germany
9National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
10Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
11Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
Received: 26 Mar 2012 – Discussion started: 04 May 2012
Abstract. Sulphuric acid is a key component in atmospheric new particle formation. However, sulphuric acid alone does not form stable enough clusters to initiate particle formation in atmospheric conditions. Strong bases, such as amines, have been suggested to stabilize sulphuric acid clusters and thus participate in particle formation. We modelled the formation rate of clusters with two sulphuric acid and two amine molecules (JA2B2) at varying atmospherically relevant conditions with respect to concentrations of sulphuric acid ([H2SO4]), dimethylamine ([DMA]) and trimethylamine ([TMA]), temperature and relative humidity (RH). We also tested how the model results change if we assume that the clusters with two sulphuric acid and two amine molecules would act as seeds for heterogeneous nucleation of organic vapours (other than amines) with higher atmospheric concentrations than sulphuric acid. The modelled formation rates JA2B2 were functions of sulphuric acid concentration with close to quadratic dependence, which is in good agreement with atmospheric observations of the connection between the particle formation rate and sulphuric acid concentration. The coefficients KA2B2 connecting the cluster formation rate and sulphuric acid concentrations as JA2B2=KA2B2[H2SO4]2 turned out to depend also on amine concentrations, temperature and relative humidity. We compared the modelled coefficients KA2B2 with the corresponding coefficients calculated from the atmospheric observations (Kobs) from environments with varying temperatures and levels of anthropogenic influence. By taking into account the modelled behaviour of JA2B2 as a function of [H2SO4], temperature and RH, the atmospheric particle formation rate was reproduced more closely than with the traditional semi-empirical formulae based on sulphuric acid concentration only. The formation rates of clusters with two sulphuric acid and two amine molecules with different amine compositions (DMA or TMA or one of both) had different responses to varying meteorological conditions and concentrations of vapours participating in particle formation. The observed inverse proportionality of the coefficient Kobs with RH and temperature agreed best with the modelled coefficient KA2B2 related to formation of a cluster with two H2SO4 and one or two TMA molecules, assuming that these clusters can grow in collisions with abundant organic vapour molecules. In case this assumption is valid, our results suggest that the formation rate of clusters with at least two of both sulphuric acid and amine molecules might be the rate-limiting step for atmospheric particle formation. More generally, our analysis elucidates the sensitivity of the atmospheric particle formation rate to meteorological variables and concentrations of vapours participating in particle formation (also other than H2SO4).
Revised: 14 Sep 2012 – Accepted: 19 Sep 2012 – Published: 05 Oct 2012
Paasonen, P., Olenius, T., Kupiainen, O., Kurtén, T., Petäjä, T., Birmili, W., Hamed, A., Hu, M., Huey, L. G., Plass-Duelmer, C., Smith, J. N., Wiedensohler, A., Loukonen, V., McGrath, M. J., Ortega, I. K., Laaksonen, A., Vehkamäki, H., Kerminen, V.-M., and Kulmala, M.: On the formation of sulphuric acid – amine clusters in varying atmospheric conditions and its influence on atmospheric new particle formation, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 9113-9133, doi:10.5194/acp-12-9113-2012, 2012.