skip to main content


Title: Characterization of a real-time tracer for Isoprene Epoxydiols-derived Secondary Organic Aerosol (IEPOX-SOA) from aerosol mass spectrometer measurements

Substantial amounts of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) can be formed from isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX), which are oxidation products of isoprene mainly under low-NO conditions. Total IEPOX-SOA, which may include SOA formed from other parallel isoprene low-NO oxidation pathways, was quantified by applying Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) to aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements. The IEPOX-SOA fractions of OA in multiple field studies across several continents are summarized here and show consistent patterns with the concentration of gas-phase IEPOX simulated by the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model. During the SOAS study, 78% of IEPOX-SOA is accounted for the measured molecular tracers, making it the highest level of molecular identification of an ambient SOA component to our knowledge. Enhanced signal at C5H6O+ (m/z 82) is found in PMF-resolved IEPOX-SOA spectra. To investigate the suitability of this ion as a tracer for IEPOX-SOA, we examine fC5H6O ( fC5H6O = C5H6O+/OA) across multiple field, chamber and source datasets. A background of ~ 1.7 ± 0.1‰ is observed in studies strongly influenced by urban, biomass-burning and other anthropogenic primary organic aerosol (POA). Higher background values of 3.1 ± 0.8‰ are found in studies strongly influenced by monoterpene emissions. The average laboratory monoterpene SOA value (5.5 ± 2.0‰)more » is 4 times lower than the average for IEPOX-SOA (22 ± 7‰). Locations strongly influenced by isoprene emissions under low-NO levels had higher fC5H6O (~ 6.5 ± 2.2‰ on average) than other sites, consistent with the expected IEPOX-SOA formation in those studies. fC5H6O in IEPOX-SOA is always elevated (12–40‰) but varies substantially between locations, which is shown to reflect large variations in its detailed molecular composition. The low fC5H6O (< 3‰) observed in non IEPOX-derived isoprene-SOA indicates that this tracer ion is specifically enhanced from IEPOX-SOA, and is not a tracer for all SOA from isoprene. We introduce a graphical diagnostic to study the presence and aging of IEPOX-SOA as a "triangle plot" of fCO2 vs. fC5H6O. Finally, we develop a simplified method to estimate ambient IEPOX-SOA mass concentrations, which is shown to perform well compared to the full PMF method. The uncertainty of the tracer method is up to a factor of ~ 2 if the fC5H6O of the local IEPOX-SOA is not available. When only unit mass resolution data is available, as with the aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM), all methods may perform less well because of increased interferences from other ions at m/z 82. This study clarifies the strengths and limitations of the different AMS methods for detection of IEPOX-SOA and will enable improved characterization of this OA component.« less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more »; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions (Online); Journal Volume: 15; Journal Issue: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7375
European Geosciences Union
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication: