Composition and volatility of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formed from oxidation of real tree emissions compared to simplified volatile organic compound (VOC) systems
Published Web Locationhttps://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/20/5629/2020/
Abstract. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is an important constituent of the atmosphere where SOA particles are formed chiefly by the condensation or reactive uptake of oxidation products of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The mass yield in SOA particle formation, as well as the chemical composition and volatility of the particles, is determined by the identity of the VOC precursor(s) and the oxidation conditions they experience. In this study, we used an oxidation flow reactor to generate biogenic SOA from the oxidation of Scots pine emissions. Mass yields, chemical composition and volatility of the SOA particles were characterized and compared with SOA particles formed from oxidation of α-pinene and from a mixture of acyclic–monocyclic sesquiterpenes (farnesenes and bisabolenes), which are significant components of the Scots pine emissions. SOA mass yields for Scots pine emissions dominated by farnesenes were lower than for α-pinene but higher than for the artificial mixture of farnesenes and bisabolenes. The reduction in the SOA yield in the farnesene- and bisabolene-dominated mixtures is due to exocyclic C=C bond scission in these acyclic–monocyclic sesquiterpenes during ozonolysis leading to smaller and generally more volatile products. SOA particles from the oxidation of Scots pine emissions had similar or lower volatility than SOA particles formed from either a single precursor or a simple mixture of VOCs. Applying physical stress to the Scots pine plants increased their monoterpene, especially monocyclic β-phellandrene, emissions, which further decreased SOA particle volatility and increased SOA mass yield. Our results highlight the need to account for the chemical complexity and structure of real-world biogenic VOC emissions and stress-induced changes to plant emissions when modelling SOA production and properties in the atmosphere. These results emphasize that a simple increase or decrease in relative monoterpene and sesquiterpene emissions should not be used as an indicator of SOA particle volatility.