Rapid growth of new atmospheric particles by nitric acid and ammonia condensation

  • A list of authors and their affiliations appears at the end of the paper New-particle formation is a major contributor to urban smog, but how it occurs in cities is often puzzling. If the growth rates of urban particles are similar to those found in cleaner environments (1–10 nanometres per hour), then existing understanding suggests that new urban particles should be rapidly scavenged by the high concentration of pre-existing particles. Here we show, through experiments performed under atmospheric conditions in the CLOUD chamber at CERN, that below about +5 degrees Celsius, nitric acid and ammonia vapours can condense onto freshly nucleated particles as small as a few nanometres in diameter. Moreover, when it is cold enough (below −15 degrees Celsius), nitric acid and ammonia can nucleate directly through an acid–base stabilization mechanism to form ammonium nitrate particles. Given that these vapours are often one thousand times more abundant than sulfuric acid, the resulting particle growth rates can be extremely high, reaching well above 100 nanometres per hour. However, these high growth rates require the gas-particle ammonium nitrate system to be out of equilibrium in order to sustain gas-phase supersaturations. In view of the strong temperature dependence that we measure for the gas-phase supersaturations, we expect such transient conditions to occur in inhomogeneous urban settings, especially in wintertime, driven by vertical mixing and by strong local sources such as traffic. Even though rapid growth from nitric acid and ammonia condensation may last for only a few minutes, it is nonetheless fast enough to shepherd freshly nucleated particles through the smallest size range where they are most vulnerable to scavenging loss, thus greatly increasing their survival probability. We also expect nitric acid and ammonia nucleation and rapid growth to be important in the relatively clean and cold upper free troposphere, where ammonia can be convected from the continental boundary layer and nitric acid is abundant from electrical storms.
Author:Mingyi WangORCiD, Weimeng KongORCiD, Ruby Marten, Xu-Cheng He, Dexian Chen, Joschka PfeiferORCiD, Arto Heitto, Jenni Kontkanen, Lubna DadaORCiDGND, Christoph Andreas KürtenORCiDGND, Taina Yli-Juuti, Hanna Elina ManninenORCiD, Stavros Amanatidis, Antonio AmorimORCiD, Rima BaalbakiORCiD, Andrea BaccariniORCiDGND, David M. Bell, Barbara BertozziORCiDGND, Steffen Bräkling, Sophia Brilke, Lucía Caudillo Murillo, Randall Chiu, Biwu Chu, Louis-Philippe De Menezes, Jonathan DuplissyORCiD, Henning FinkenzellerORCiD, Loic Gonzalez Carracedo, Manuel GranzinORCiD, Roberto Guida, Armin HanselORCiD, Victoria Hofbauer, Jordan Krechmer, Katrianne LehtipaloORCiDGND, Houssni LamkaddamORCiD, Marku Lampimäki, Chuan Ping Lee, Vladimir MakhmutovORCiD, Guillaume MarieORCiD, Serge Mathot, Roy Lee MauldinORCiD, Bernhard MentlerORCiD, Tatjana Müller, Antti OnnelaORCiD, Eva Partoll, Tuukka Petäjä, Maxim PhilippovORCiD, Veronika Pospisilova, Ananth Ranjithkumar, Matti P. RissanenORCiD, Birte RörupORCiD, Wiebke ScholzORCiD, Jiali ShenORCiD, Mario SimonORCiD, Mikko SipiläORCiD, Gerhard Steiner, Dominik StolzenburgORCiD, Yee Jun Tham, António Tomé, Andrea Christine WagnerGND, Dongyu S. Wang, Yonghong WangORCiD, Stefan K. Weber, Paul M. WinklerORCiD, Peter J. Wlasits, Yusheng Wu, Mao Xiao, Qing Ye, Marcel Zauner-WieczorekORCiDGND, Xueqin Zhou, Rainer VolkamerORCiDGND, Ilona RiipinenORCiD, Josef Dommen, Joachim CurtiusORCiD, Urs BaltenspergerORCiDGND, Markku KulmalaORCiDGND, Douglas R. WorsnopORCiD, Jasper KirkbyORCiD, John H. Seinfeld, Imad El HaddadORCiDGND, Richard C. FlaganORCiD, Neil McPherson DonahueORCiDGND
Pubmed Id:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32405020
Parent Title (English):Nature
Publisher:Nature Publ. Group
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2020
Date of first Publication:2020/05/13
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/05/27
Tag:Atmospheric science; Climate change
Page Number:20
First Page:184
Last Page:189
Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0