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Field and Laboratory Studies of Atmospheric Organic Aerosol


Coggon, Matthew Mitchell (2016) Field and Laboratory Studies of Atmospheric Organic Aerosol. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9959FH7.


This thesis is the culmination of field and laboratory studies aimed at assessing processes that affect the composition and distribution of atmospheric organic aerosol. An emphasis is placed on measurements conducted using compact and high-resolution Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometers (AMS). The first three chapters summarize results from aircraft campaigns designed to evaluate anthropogenic and biogenic impacts on marine aerosol and clouds off the coast of California. Subsequent chapters describe laboratory studies intended to evaluate gas and particle-phase mechanisms of organic aerosol oxidation.

The 2013 Nucleation in California Experiment (NiCE) was a campaign designed to study environments impacted by nucleated and/or freshly formed aerosol particles. Terrestrial biogenic aerosol with > 85% organic mass was observed to reside in the free troposphere above marine stratocumulus. This biogenic organic aerosol (BOA) originated from the Northwestern United States and was transported to the marine atmosphere during periodic cloud-clearing events. Spectra recorded by a cloud condensation nuclei counter demonstrated that BOA is CCN active. BOA enhancements at latitudes north of San Francisco, CA coincided with enhanced cloud water concentrations of organic species such as acetate and formate.

Airborne measurements conducted during the 2011 Eastern Pacific Emitted Aerosol Cloud Experiment (E-PEACE) were aimed at evaluating the contribution of ship emissions to the properties of marine aerosol and clouds off the coast of central California. In one study, analysis of organic aerosol mass spectra during periods of enhanced shipping activity yielded unique tracers indicative of cloud-processed ship emissions (m/z 42 and 99). The variation of their organic fraction (f42 and f99) was found to coincide with periods of heavy (f42 > 0.15; f99 > 0.04), moderate (0.05 < f42 < 0.15; 0.01 < f99 < 0.04), and negligible (f42 < 0.05; f99 < 0.01) ship influence. Application of these conditions to all measurements conducted during E-PEACE demonstrated that a large fraction of cloud droplet (72%) and dry aerosol mass (12%) sampled in the California coastal study region was heavily or moderately influenced by ship emissions. Another study investigated the chemical and physical evolution of a controlled organic plume emitted from the R/V Point Sur. Under sunny conditions, nucleated particles composed of oxidized organic compounds contributed nearly an order of magnitude more cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) than less oxidized particles formed under cloudy conditions. The processing time necessary for particles to become CCN active was short ( < 1 hr) compared to the time needed for particles to become hygroscopic at sub-saturated humidity ( > 4 hr).

Laboratory chamber experiments were also conducted to evaluate particle-phase processes influencing aerosol phase and composition. In one study, ammonium sulfate seed was coated with a layer of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from toluene oxidation followed by a layer of SOA from α-pinene oxidation. The system exhibited different evaporative properties than ammonium sulfate seed initially coated with α-pinene SOA followed by a layer of toluene SOA. This behavior is consistent with a shell-and-core model and suggests limited mixing among different SOA types. Another study investigated the reactive uptake of isoprene epoxy diols (IEPOX) onto non-acidified aerosol. It was demonstrated that particle acidity has limited influence on organic aerosol formation onto ammonium sulfate seed, and that the chemical system is limited by the availability of nucleophiles such as sulfate.

Flow tube experiments were conducted to examine the role of iron in the reactive uptake and chemical oxidation of glycolaldehyde. Aerosol particles doped with iron and hydrogen peroxide were mixed with gas-phase glycolaldehyde and photochemically aged in a custom-built flow reactor. Compared to particles free of iron, iron-doped aerosols significantly enhanced the oxygen to carbon (O/C) ratio of accumulated organic mass. The primary oxidation mechanism is suggested to be a combination of Fenton and photo-Fenton reactions which enhance particle-phase OH radical concentrations.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Organic Aerosol, Atmospheric Chemistry, Indirect Effect, Cloud Condensation Nuclei, Flow Reactor
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. (advisor)
  • Flagan, Richard C. (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Seinfeld, John H. (chair)
  • Flagan, Richard C.
  • Wennberg, Paul O.
  • Sorooshian, Armin
Defense Date:18 September 2015
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:09222015-114148959
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Chapter 2 adapted for Chapter 3 adapted for Chapter 4 adapted for Chapter 5 adapted for Chapter 6 adapted for Chapter 7
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9166
Deposited By: Matthew Coggon
Deposited On:05 Oct 2015 23:07
Last Modified:06 Nov 2019 17:16

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