Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 5413-5425, 2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
02 May 2016
Impacts of organic aerosols and its oxidation level on CCN activity from measurement at a suburban site in China
Fang Zhang1, Zhanqing Li1,2, Yanan Li1, Yele Sun3, Zhenzhu Wang4, Ping Li1, Li Sun5, Pucai Wang6, Maureen Cribb2, Chuanfeng Zhao1, Tianyi Fan1, Xin Yang1, and Qingqing Wang3 1State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China
2Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
3State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100029 Beijing, China
4Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Composition and Optical Radiation, Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 230031 Hefei, China
5Liaoning Weather Modification Office, 112000 Shenyang, China
6Key Laboratory of Middle Atmosphere and Global Environment Observation (LAGEO), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100029 Beijing, China
Abstract. This study is concerned with the impacts of organic aerosols on cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity based on field measurements made at a suburban site in Northern China. The sensitivity of the estimated CCN number concentration (NCCN) to both volume fraction of organic material (xorg) and aerosol oxidation level (using f44, the fraction of mz 44 in aerosol organic material) are examined. A strong dependence of CCN number concentration (NCCN) on the xorg and f44 was noted. The sensitivity of NCCN to volume fraction of organics increased with increasing xorg. The impacts of the aerosol particles oxidization or aging level on estimating NCCN were also very significant. When the particles were mostly composed of organics (xorg > 60 %), the NCCN at the supersaturation of 0.075 and 0.13 % was underestimated by 46 and 44 %, respectively, if aerosol particles were freshly emitted with primary organics (f44 < 11 %); the underestimation decreased to 32 and 23 % at the corresponding supersaturations, however, if the particles were with more hygroscopic secondary organics (f44 > 15 %). The NCCN at the supersaturation of 0.76 % was underestimated by 11 and 4 %, respectively, at f44 < 11 and f44 > 15 %. However, for the particles composed of low organics (e.g., xorg < 40 %), the effect caused by the f44 was quite insignificant both at high and low supersaturations. This is because the overall hygroscopicity of the particles is dominated by inorganics such as sulfate and nitrate, which are more hygroscopic than organic compounds. Our results indicated that it would decrease the uncertainties in estimating NCCN and lead to a more accurate estimation of NCCN to increase the proportion of secondary organics, especially when the composition of the aerosols is dominated by organics. The applicability of the CCN activation spectrum obtained at Xinzhou to the Xianghe site, about 400 km to the northeast of Xinzhou, was investigated, with the aim of further examining the sensitivity of NCCN to aerosol type. Overall, the mean CCN efficiency spectrum derived from Xinzhou performs well at Xianghe when the supersaturation levels are > 0.2 % (overestimation of 2–4 %). However, NCCN was overestimated by  ∼  20 % at supersaturation levels of < 0.1 %. This suggests that the overestimation is mainly due to the smaller proportion of aged and oxidized organic aerosols present at Xianghe compared to Xinzhou.

Citation: Zhang, F., Li, Z., Li, Y., Sun, Y., Wang, Z., Li, P., Sun, L., Wang, P., Cribb, M., Zhao, C., Fan, T., Yang, X., and Wang, Q.: Impacts of organic aerosols and its oxidation level on CCN activity from measurement at a suburban site in China, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 5413-5425, doi:10.5194/acp-16-5413-2016, 2016.
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