WashU affiliated authors: Jian Wang (Center for Aerosol Science and Engineering)
Abstract: A major challenge in assessing the impact of aerosols on climate change is to understand how human activities change aerosol loading and properties relative to the pristine/preindustrial baseline. Here, we combine chemical transport simulations and field measurements to investigate the effect of anthropogenic pollution from an isolated metropolis on the particle number concentration over the preindustrial-like Amazon rainforest through various new-particle formation (NPF) mechanisms and primary particle emissions. To represent organic-mediated NPF, we employ a state-of-the-art model that systematically simulates the formation chemistry and thermodynamics of extremely low volatility organic compounds, as well as their roles in NPF processes, and further update the model to improve organic NPF simulations under human-influenced conditions. Results show that urban pollution from the metropolis increases the particle number concentration by a factor of 5–25 over the downwind region (within 200 km from the city center) compared to background conditions. Our model indicates that NPF contributes over 70% of the total particle number in the downwind region except immediately adjacent to the sources. Among different NPF mechanisms, the ternary NPF involving organics and sulfuric acid overwhelmingly dominates. The improved understanding of particle formation mechanisms will help better quantify anthropogenic aerosol forcing from preindustrial times to the present day.