Insights into the formation of secondary organic carbon in the summertime in urban Shanghai

Ci Zhang , Xiaohui Lu , Jinghao Zhai , Hong Chen , Xin Yang , Qi Zhang , Qianbiao Zhao , Qingyan Fu , Fei Sha , Jing Jin


Received November 06, 2017,Revised , Accepted December 20, 2017, Available online January 04, 2018

Volume 72,2018,Pages 118-132

To investigate formation mechanisms of secondary organic carbon (SOC) in Eastern China, measurements were conducted in an urban site in Shanghai in the summer of 2015. A period of high O3 concentrations (daily peak > 120 ppb) was observed, during which daily maximum SOC concentrations exceeding 9.0 μg/(C·m3). Diurnal variations of SOC concentration and SOC/organic carbon (OC) ratio exhibited both daytime and nighttime peaks. The SOC concentrations correlated well with Ox (= O3 + NO2) and relative humidity in the daytime and nighttime, respectively, suggesting that secondary organic aerosol formation in Shanghai is driven by both photochemical production and aqueous phase reactions. Single particle mass spectrometry was used to examine the formation pathways of SOC. Along with the daytime increase of SOC, the number fraction of elemental carbon (EC) particles coated with OC quickly increased from 38.1% to 61.9% in the size range of 250–2000 nm, which was likely due to gas-to-particle partitioning of photochemically generated semi-volatile organic compounds onto EC particles. In the nighttime, particles rich in OC components were highly hygroscopic, and number fraction of these particles correlated well with relative humidity and SOC/OC nocturnal peaks. Meanwhile, as an aqueous-phase SOC tracer, particles that contained oxalate-Fe(III) complex also peaked at night. These observations suggested that aqueous-phase processes had an important contribution to the SOC nighttime formation. The influence of aerosol acidity on SOC formation was studied by both bulk and single particle level measurements, suggesting that the aqueous-phase formation of SOC was enhanced by particle acidity.

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