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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 oxidation pathways, was quantified by applying positive matrix factorization (PMF) to aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements. The IEPOX-SOA fractions of organic aerosol (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 Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS), 78 % of PMF-resolved IEPOX-SOA is accounted by the measured IEPOX-SOA molecular tracers (2-methyltetrols, C5-Triols, and IEPOX-derived organosulfate and its dimers), making it the highest level of molecular identification of an ambient SOA component to our knowledge. An 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 data sets. A background of ~ 1.7 ± 0.1 ‰ (‰ = parts per thousand) is observed in studies strongly influenced by urban, biomass-burning, and other anthropogenic primary organic aerosol (POA). Higher background valuesmore » of 3.1 ± 0.6 ‰ are found in studies strongly influenced by monoterpene emissions. The average laboratory monoterpene SOA value (5.5 ± 2.0 ‰) is 4 times lower than the average for IEPOX-SOA (22 ± 7 ‰), which leaves some room to separate both contributions to OA. 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 ‰) reported in non-IEPOX-derived isoprene-SOA from chamber studies 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 are 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
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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online); Journal Volume: 15; Journal Issue: 20; Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7324
Copernicus GmbH
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
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