Suppression in droplet growth kinetics by the addition of organics to sulfate particles

Aerosol-cloud interactions are affected by the rate at which water vapor condenses onto particles during cloud droplet growth. Changes in droplet growth rates can impact cloud droplet number and size distribution. The current study investigated droplet growth kinetics of acidic and neutral sulfate particles which contained various amounts and types of organic compounds, from model compounds (carbonyls) to complex mixtures (α-pinene secondary organic aerosol and diesel engine exhaust). In most cases, the formed droplet size distributions were shifted to smaller sizes relative to control experiments (pure sulfate particles), due to suppression in droplet growth rates in the cloud condensation nuclei counter. The shift to smaller droplets correlated with increasing amounts of organic material, with the largest effect observed for acidic seed particles at low relative humidity. For all organics incorporated onto acidic particles, formation of high molecular weight compounds was observed, probably by acid-catalyzed Aldol condensation reactions in the case of carbonyls. To test the reversibility of this process, carbonyl experiments were conducted with acidic particles exposed to higher relative humidity. High molecular weight compounds were not measured in this case and no shift in droplet sizes was observed, suggesting that high molecular weight compounds are the species affecting the rate of water uptake. While these results provide laboratory evidence that organic compounds can slow droplet growth rates, the modeled mass accommodation coefficient of water on these particles (α > 0.1) indicates that this effect is unlikely to significantly affect cloud properties, consistent with infrequent field observations of slower droplet growth rates. © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Published in:
Journal of Geophysical Research, 119, 12,222-12,232

 Record created 2018-10-15, last modified 2019-12-05

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)