Influence of air mass source region on nanoparticle events and hygroscopicity in central Virginia, U.S.

T. L. O'Halloran, J. D. Fuentes, D. R. Collins, M. J. Cleveland, W. C. Keene

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14 Scopus citations


During autumn, 2006, variation in the frequency of aerosol nucleation events, as inferred from nanoparticle growth events, and associated hygroscopicity were investigated as a function of air mass transport history at a mixed deciduous forest in central Virginia, U.S. Above-canopy size distributions of aerosols between 0.012 and 0.700 μm diameter, size-resolved particle hygroscopicity at eight dry diameters between 0.012 and 0.400 μm, and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity were characterized. Air mass back trajectories were clustered to identify source regions. Growth events were most frequent in fast-moving air masses (mean = 9 m s-1) that originated over the north central U.S. Under these flow regimes, mean values for preexisting sub-μm aerosol number concentrations (4700 cm-3), corresponding surface area (142 μm2 cm-3), air temperature (6.2 °C), and relative humidity (RH, 49.4%) were relatively low compared to other regimes. Under stagnant flow conditions (mean = 3 m s-1), mean number concentrations were higher (>6000 cm-3) and size fractions <0.1 μm diameter exhibited enhanced hygroscopicity compared to other source regions. These results indicate that precursors emitted into relatively clean, cold, and dry air transported over the southeastern U.S. reacted to form condensable intermediates that subsequently produced new aerosols via nucleation and growth. This pathway was an important source for CCN. During events in October, nanoparticles were produced in greater numbers and grew more rapidly compared to November and December.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3586-3595
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number22-23
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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