The driving factors of new particle formation and growth in the polluted boundary layer

Mao Xiao, Christopher R. Hoyle, Lubna Dada, Dominik Stolzenburg, Andreas Kürten, Mingyi Wang, Houssni Lamkaddam, Olga Garmash, Bernhard Mentler, Ugo Molteni, Andrea Baccarini, Mario Simon, Xu Cheng He, Katrianne Lehtipalo, Lauri R. Ahonen, Rima Baalbaki, Paulus S. Bauer, Lisa Beck, David Bell, Federico BianchiSophia Brilke, Dexian Chen, Randall Chiu, António Dias, Jonathan Duplissy, Henning Finkenzeller, Hamish Gordon, Victoria Hofbauer, Changhyuk Kim, Theodore K. Koenig, Janne Lampilahti, Chuan Ping Lee, Zijun Li, Huajun Mai, Vladimir Makhmutov, Hanna E. Manninen, Ruby Marten, Serge Mathot, Roy L. Mauldin, Wei Nie, Antti Onnela, Eva Partoll, Tuukka Petäjä, Joschka Pfeifer, Veronika Pospisilova, Lauriane L.J. Quéléver, Matti Rissanen, Siegfried Schobesberger, Simone Schuchmann, Yuri Stozhkov, Christian Tauber, Yee Jun Tham, António Tomé, Miguel Vazquez-Pufleau, Andrea C. Wagner, Robert Wagner, Yonghong Wang, Lena Weitz, Daniela Wimmer, Yusheng Wu, Chao Yan, Penglin Ye, Qing Ye, Qiaozhi Zha, Xueqin Zhou, Antonio Amorim, Ken Carslaw, Joachim Curtius, Armin Hansel, Rainer Volkamer, Paul M. Winkler, Richard C. Flagan, Markku Kulmala, Douglas R. Worsnop, Jasper Kirkby, Neil M. Donahue, Urs Baltensperger, Imad El Haddad, Josef Dommen

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New particle formation (NPF) is a significant source of atmospheric particles, affecting climate and air quality. Understanding the mechanisms involved in urban aerosols is important to develop effective mitigation strategies. However, NPF rates reported in the polluted boundary layer span more than 4 orders of magnitude, and the reasons behind this variability are the subject of intense scientific debate. Multiple atmospheric vapours have been postulated to participate in NPF, including sulfuric acid, ammonia, amines and organics, but their relative roles remain unclear. We investigated NPF in the CLOUD chamber using mixtures of anthropogenic vapours that simulate polluted boundary layer conditions. We demonstrate that NPF in polluted environments is largely driven by the formation of sulfuric acid-base clusters, stabilized by the presence of amines, high ammonia concentrations and lower temperatures. Aromatic oxidation products, despite their extremely low volatility, play a minor role in NPF in the chosen urban environment but can be important for particle growth and hence for the survival of newly formed particles. Our measurements quantitatively account for NPF in highly diverse urban environments and explain its large observed variability. Such quantitative information obtained under controlled laboratory conditions will help the interpretation of future ambient observations of NPF rates in polluted atmospheres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14275-14291
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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