Linking aerosol hygroscopicity, volatility, and oxidation with cloud condensation nuclei activity: From laboratory to ambient particles
Cerully, Kate M.
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The indirect effect of atmospheric aerosol on climate remains a large source of uncertainty in anthropogenic climate change prediction. An important fraction of this uncertainty arises from the impacts of organic aerosol on cloud droplet formation. Conventional thinking says that organic aerosol hygroscopicity, typically represented by the hygroscopicity parameter κ, increases with oxidation, most commonly represented by the oxygen to carbon ratio of the aerosol, O:C. Furthermore, these quantities are expected to increase as aerosol volatility decreases. Results indicate that the link between organic aerosol hygroscopicity and oxidation is not always straightforward, and in some cases, the average carbon oxidation state OSc appears to be a better indicator of oxidation than the oxygen to carbon ratio, O:C. In chamber and ambient studies, the least volatile fraction of the aerosol also appeared to be the least hygroscopic, contradictory to current thinking; however, in both cases, thermally-denuded aerosol showed greater oxidation, in terms of OSc, than non-denuded aerosol. When these findings are placed in the context of numerous published studies from a variety of different environment, the overall trend of increasing organic hygroscopicity with O:C still holds. This is also true for volatilized aerosol, though the magnitude of organic hygroscopicity is generally lower than that of non-denuded aerosol.