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Studies of Ambient Organic and Inorganic Aerosol in Southern California


Ensberg, Joseph James (2014) Studies of Ambient Organic and Inorganic Aerosol in Southern California. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/4J4Q-HP22.


The negative impacts of ambient aerosol particles, or particulate matter (PM), on human health and climate are well recognized. However, owing to the complexity of aerosol particle formation and chemical evolution, emissions control strategies remain difficult to develop in a cost effective manner. In this work, three studies are presented to address several key issues currently stymieing California's efforts to continue improving its air quality.

Gas-phase organic mass (GPOM) and CO emission factors are used in conjunction with measured enhancements in oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA) relative to CO to quantify the significant lack of closure between expected and observed organic aerosol concentrations attributable to fossil-fuel emissions. Two possible conclusions emerge from the analysis to yield consistency with the ambient organic data: (1) vehicular emissions are not a dominant source of anthropogenic fossil SOA in the Los Angeles Basin, or (2) the ambient SOA mass yields used to determine the SOA formation potential of vehicular emissions are substantially higher than those derived from laboratory chamber studies. Additional laboratory chamber studies confirm that, owing to vapor-phase wall loss, the SOA mass yields currently used in virtually all 3D chemical transport models are biased low by as much as a factor of 4. Furthermore, predictions from the Statistical Oxidation Model suggest that this bias could be as high as a factor of 8 if the influence of the chamber walls could be removed entirely.

Once vapor-phase wall loss has been accounted for in a new suite of laboratory chamber experiments, the SOA parameterizations within atmospheric chemical transport models should also be updated. To address the numerical challenges of implementing the next generation of SOA models in atmospheric chemical transport models, a novel mathematical framework, termed the Moment Method, is designed and presented. Assessment of the Moment Method strengths and weaknesses provide valuable insight that can guide future development of SOA modules for atmospheric CTMs.

Finally, regional inorganic aerosol formation and evolution is investigated via detailed comparison of predictions from the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ version 4.7.1) model against a suite of airborne and ground-based meteorological measurements, gas- and aerosol-phase inorganic measurements, and black carbon (BC) measurements over Southern California during the CalNex field campaign in May/June 2010. Results suggests that continuing to target sulfur emissions with the hopes of reducing ambient PM concentrations may not the most effective strategy for Southern California. Instead, targeting dairy emissions is likely to be an effective strategy for substantially reducing ammonium nitrate concentrations in the eastern part of the Los Angeles Basin.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:chemical transport model, inorganic aerosol, Los Angeles, mass yields, organic aerosol, vehicular emissions
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemical Engineering
Minor Option:Environmental Science and Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Seinfeld, John H.
Thesis Committee:
  • Seinfeld, John H. (chair)
  • Flagan, Richard C.
  • Wennberg, Paul O.
  • Dabdub, Donald
Defense Date:14 March 2014
Non-Caltech Author Email:josephjamesensberg (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03192014-130444619
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for ch. 2
http:/ adapted for ch. 4
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8147
Deposited By: Joseph Ensberg
Deposited On:24 Mar 2014 17:13
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:04

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