Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Analysis of Atmospheric Particle Formation Events

Miikka Dal Maso

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Sciences, Atmospheric Sciences.

Atmospheric aerosol particle formation events can be a significant source for tropospheric aerosols and thus influence the radiative properties and cloud cover of the atmosphere. This thesis investigates the analysis of aerosol size distribution data containing particle formation events, describes the methodology of the analysis and presents time series data measured inside the Boreal forest.

This thesis presents a methodology to identify regional-scale particle formation, and to derive the basic characteristics such as growth and formation rates. The methodology can also be used to estimate concentration and source rates of the vapour causing particle growth. Particle formation was found to occur frequently in the boreal forest area over areas covering up to hundreds of kilometers. Particle formation rates of boreal events were found to be of the order of 0.01-5 cm^-3 s^-1, while the nucleation rates of 1 nm particles can be a few orders of magnitude higher. The growth rates of over 3 nm sized particles were of the order of a few nanometers per hour. The vapor concentration needed to sustain such growth is of the order of 10^7--10^8 cm^-3, approximately one order of magnitude higher than sulphuric acid concentrations found in the atmosphere. Therefore, one has to assume that other vapours, such as organics, have a key role in growing newborn particles to sizes where they can become climatically active.

Formation event occurrence shows a clear annual variation with peaks in summer and autumns. This variation is similar to the variation exhibited the obtained formation rates of particles. The growth rate, on the other hand, reaches its highest values during summer. This difference in the annual behavior, and the fact that no coupling between the growth and formation process could be identified, suggest that these processes might be different ones, and that both are needed for a particle formation burst to be observed.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 30.10.2006

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