Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 8647-8663, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
26 Aug 2014
New-particle formation, growth and climate-relevant particle production in Egbert, Canada: analysis from 1 year of size-distribution observations
J. R. Pierce1,2, D. M. Westervelt3, S. A. Atwood1, E. A. Barnes1, and W. R. Leaitch4 1Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
2Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
3Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
4Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Abstract. Aerosol particle nucleation, or new-particle formation, is the dominant contributor to particle number in the atmosphere. However, these particles must grow through condensation of low-volatility vapors without coagulating with the larger, preexisting particles in order to reach climate-relevant sizes (diameters larger than 50–100 nm), where the particles may affect clouds and radiation. In this paper, we use 1 year of size-distribution measurements from Egbert, Ontario, Canada to calculate the frequency of regional-scale new-particle-formation events, new-particle-formation rates, growth rates and the fraction of new particles that survive to reach climate-relevant sizes. Regional-scale new-particle-formation events occur on 14–31% of the days (depending on the stringency of the classification criteria), with event frequency peaking in the spring and fall. New-particle-formation rates and growth rates are similar to those measured at other midlatitude continental sites. We calculate that roughly half of the climate-relevant particles (with diameters larger than 50–100 nm) at Egbert are formed through new-particle-formation events. With the addition of meteorological and SO2 measurements, we find that new-particle formation at Egbert often occurs under synoptic conditions associated with high surface pressure and large-scale subsidence that cause sunny conditions and clean-air flow from the north and west. However, new-particle formation also occurs when air flows from the polluted regions to the south and southwest of Egbert. The new-particle-formation rates tend to be faster during events under the polluted south/southwest flow conditions.

Citation: Pierce, J. R., Westervelt, D. M., Atwood, S. A., Barnes, E. A., and Leaitch, W. R.: New-particle formation, growth and climate-relevant particle production in Egbert, Canada: analysis from 1 year of size-distribution observations, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 8647-8663, doi:10.5194/acp-14-8647-2014, 2014.
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