Classifying organic materials by oxygen-to-carbon elemental ratio to predict the activation regime of Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) School of Engineering and Applied Sciences & Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
27 May 2013
Received: 28 November 2012 – Published in Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.: 11 December 2012 Abstract. The governing highly soluble, slightly soluble, or insoluble activation
regime of organic compounds as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) was examined
as a function of oxygen-to-carbon elemental ratio (O : C). New data were
collected for adipic, pimelic, suberic, azelaic, and pinonic acids.
Secondary organic materials (SOMs) produced by α-pinene ozonolysis
and isoprene photo-oxidation were also included in the analysis. The
saturation concentrations C of the organic compounds in aqueous solutions
served as the key parameter for delineating regimes of CCN activation, and
the values of C were tightly correlated to the O : C ratios. The highly
soluble, slightly soluble, and insoluble regimes of CCN activation were
found to correspond to ranges of [O : C] > 0.6, 0.2 < [O : C]
< 0.6, and [O : C] < 0.2, respectively. These classifications
were evaluated against CCN activation data of isoprene-derived SOM (O : C =
0.69–0.72) and α-pinene-derived SOM (O : C = 0.38–0.48).
Isoprene-derived SOM had highly soluble activation behavior, consistent with
its high O : C ratio. For α-pinene-derived SOM, although CCN
activation can be modeled as a highly soluble mechanism, this behavior was
not predicted by the O : C ratio, for which a slightly soluble mechanism was
anticipated. Complexity in chemical composition, resulting in continuous
water uptake and the absence of a deliquescence transition that can
thermodynamically limit CCN activation, might explain the difference in the
behavior of α-pinene-derived SOM compared to that of pure organic
compounds. The present results suggest that atmospheric particles dominated
by hydrocarbon-like organic components do not activate (i.e., insoluble
regime) whereas those dominated by oxygenated organic components activate
(i.e., highly soluble regime) for typical atmospheric cloud life cycles.
Revised: 29 March 2013 – Accepted: 17 April 2013 – Published: 27 May 2013
Citation: Kuwata, M., Shao, W., Lebouteiller, R., and Martin, S. T.: Classifying organic materials by oxygen-to-carbon elemental ratio to predict the activation regime of Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN), Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5309-5324, doi:10.5194/acp-13-5309-2013, 2013.