Organic aerosol formation via sulphate cluster activation
O'Dowd, Colin D.
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Kulmala, Markku; Kerminen, Veli-Matti; Anttila, Tatu; Laaksonen, Ari; O'Dowd, Colin D. (2004). Organic aerosol formation via sulphate cluster activation. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 109 ,
[ 1] The formation of aerosols, and subsequent cloud condensation nuclei, remains one of the least understood atmospheric processes upon which global climate change critically depends. Under atmospheric conditions, the process of homogeneous nucleation (formation of stable clusters -1 nm in size), and their subsequent growth into new particles (>3 nm), determines the aerosol and cloud nuclei population, yet, hitherto, no theory has elucidated the new particle formation phenomenon in detail. In this study, we present a new theory which provides a mechanistic explanation for new particle formation via activation of stable inorganic clusters by organic vapors. The new nano-particle activation theory is analogous to Kohler theory which describes cloud formation in a supersaturated water vapor field but differs in that it describes the activation of inorganic stable nano-clusters into aerosol particles in a supersaturated organic vapor which initiates spontaneous and rapid growth of clusters. Inclusion of the new theory into aerosol formation models predicts that increases in organic vapor densities lead to even greater increases in particle production, which, in turn, will influence the global radiative cooling effect of atmospheric aerosols.