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This content will become publicly available on May 2, 2017

Title: Airborne soil organic particles generated by precipitation

Airborne organic particles play a critical role in Earth’s climate1, public health2, air quality3, and hydrological and carbon cycles4. However, sources and formation mechanisms for semi-solid and solid organic particles5 are poorly understood and typically neglected in atmospheric models6. Laboratory evidence suggests that fine particles can be formed from impaction of mineral surfaces by droplets7. Here, we use chemical imaging of particles collected following rain events in the Southern Great Plains, Oklahoma, USA and after experimental irrigation to show that raindrop impaction of soils generates solid organic particles. We find that after rain events, sub-micrometre solid particles, with a chemical composition consistent with soil organic matter, contributed up to 60% of atmospheric particles. Our irrigation experiments indicate that intensive water impaction is sufficient to cause ejection of airborne soil organic particles from the soil surface. Chemical imaging and micro-spectroscopy analysis of particle physico-chemical properties suggest that these particles may have important impacts on cloud formation and efficiently absorb solar radiation. Lastly, we suggest that raindrop-induced formation of solid organic particles from soils may be a widespread phenomenon in ecosystems such as agricultural systems and grasslands where soils are exposed to strong, episodic precipitation events8.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [1]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  4. Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1752-0894; ngeo2705
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Geoscience
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 151; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1752-0894
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; atmospheric chemistry; biogeochemistry
OSTI Identifier: