Characterization of submicron aerosol particles in winter at Albany, New York

Ying Cheng , Xiuli Wei , Huaqiao Gui , Jianguo Liu


Received September 20, 2020,Revised , Accepted March 04, 2021, Available online March 24, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 118-129

A thorough understanding of chemical composition, particle pH, and pollutant emissions is essential to address the climate and human health effects of atmospheric particles. In this study, we used a High-Resolution Time-of-Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) and Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) to characterize the composition of submicron particles. Moreover, we applied the ISORROPIA-II model to analyze the particle acidity effect on the compositional characterization of submicron particles from December 22, 2016 to January 7, 2017 in Albany, New York, USA. The results indicated that aerosols with mobility diameter from SMPS in the range 200–400 nm were the main contributors to the mass during the measurement period. The dominance of organics (47%) and sulfate (16%) was similar to previous observations in the eastern United States in Winter 2015, while the fraction of nitrate (23%) was much higher. Moreover, nitrate could easily form at colder temperatures and lower RH levels even when there were more acidic particle periods during the measurement period in Albany. The ISORROPIA-II model indicated that there were more acidic particles, which was estimated using pH values. Lower temperature conditions tended to favor nitrate formation. The nitrate concentration exceeded that of sulfate in the measurement period, even though the SO2 and NOx emissions were similar. The organics in submicron particles were strongly influenced by the local emissions in winter. However, the inorganic compounds in submicron particles could be derived from regional transport as their pollution sources originated from different directions. This may help strategize emission reductions in the future.

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