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Title: Airborne Soil Organic Particles Generated by Precipitation

Airborne organic particles play a critical role in the Earth’s climate1, public health2, air quality3, and hydrological and carbon cycles4. These particles exist in liquid, amorphous semi-solid, or solid (glassy) phase states depending on their composition and ambient conditions5. However, sources and formation mechanisms for semi- solid and solid organic particles are poorly understood and typically neglected in atmospheric models6. Here we report field evidence for airborne solid organic particles generated by a “raindrop” mechanism7 pertinent to atmosphere – land surface interactions (Fig. 1). We find that after rain events at Southern Great Plains, Oklahoma, USA, submicron solid particles, with a composition consistent with soil organic matter, contributed up to 60% of atmospheric particles in number. Subsequent experiments indicate that airborne soil organic particles are ejected from the surface of soils caused by intensive rains or irrigation. Our observations suggest that formation of these particles may be a widespread phenomenon in ecosystems where soils are exposed to strong, episodic precipitation events such as agricultural systems and grasslands8. Chemical imaging and micro-spectroscopy analysis of their physico-chemical properties suggests that airborne soil organic particles may have important impacts on cloud formation and efficiently absorb solar radiation and hence, are an important typemore » of particles.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
48272; 47937
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Nature Geoscience, 9(6):433-438
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory