The sources, formation and properties of soluble organic aerosols: results from ambient measurements in the southeastern united states and the los angeles basin
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900 archived FRM filters from 15 sites over the southeast during 2007 were analyzed for PM2.5 chemical composition and physical properties. Secondary components (i.e. sulfate aerosol and SOA) were the major contributors to the PM2.5 mass over the southeast, whereas the contribution from biomass burning varied with season and was negligible (2%) during summer. Excluding biomass burning influence, FRM WSOC was spatially homogeneous throughout the region, similar to sulfate, yet WSOC was moderately enhanced in locations of greater predicted isoprene emissions in summer. On smaller spatial scale, a substantial urban/rural gradient of WSOC was found through comparisons of online WSOC measurements at one urban/rural pair (Atlanta/Yorkville) in August 2008, indicating important contribution from anthropogenic emissions. A comparative study between Atlanta and LA reveals a number of contrasting features between two cities. WSOC gas-particle partitioning, investigated through the fraction of total WSOC in the particle phase, Fp, exhibited differing relationships with ambient RH and organic aerosols. In Atlanta, both particle water and organic aerosol (OA) can serve as an absorbing phase. In contrast, in LA the aerosol water was not an important absorbing phase, instead, Fp was correlated with OA mass. Fresh LA WSOC had a consistent brown color and a bulk absorption per soluble carbon mass at 365 nm that was 4 to 6 times higher than freshly-formed Atlanta soluble organic carbon. Interpreting soluble brown carbon as a property of freshly-formed anthropogenic SOA, the difference in absorption per carbon mass between the two cities suggests most WSOC formed within Atlanta is not from an anthropogenic process similar to LA.