Graduate Student, California Institute of Technology
Deciphering the chemistry of organic aerosol and its impacts on climate, air quality, and health.
Atmospheric aerosol is a highly variable and complex mixture, largely composed of organic compounds derived from the oxidation of anthropogenic and biogenic emissions. Aerosol particles are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, exerting large but uncertain effects on Earth’s radiative budget directly, by scattering and absorbing radiation, and indirectly, by altering cloud albedo and lifetime as cloud condensation nuclei. Exposure to ambient aerosol has also been shown to cause damaging effects to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Owing to the chemical complexity of atmospheric organic aerosol (OA), which generally consists of thousands or more compounds of diverse chemical classes, molecular-level analysis represents one of the most formidable challenges in atmospheric chemistry, resulting in a limited understanding of the fundamental chemical processes that govern the formation, properties, and fate of OA in the atmosphere. Through a combination of advanced mass spectrometric, chromatographic, and synthetic techniques, my research seeks to decipher the molecular composition, origins, and formation mechanisms of OA that are essential to unraveling its impacts on climate, air quality, and health.
Abstract: Organic aerosol (OA) particles affect climate forcing and human health, but their sources and evolution remain poorly characterized. We present a unifying model framework describing the atmospheric evolution of OA that is constrained by high-time-resolution measurements of its composition, volatility, and oxidation state. OA and OA precursor gases evolve by becoming increasingly oxidized, less volatile, and more hygroscopic, leading to the formation of oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA), with concentrations comparable to those of sulfate aerosol throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Our model framework captures the dynamic aging behavior observed in both the atmosphere and laboratory: It can serve as a basis for improving parameterizations in regional and global models.
Pub.: 17 Dec '09, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: Isoprene is a significant source of atmospheric organic aerosol; however, the oxidation pathways that lead to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) have remained elusive. Here, we identify the role of two key reactive intermediates, epoxydiols of isoprene (IEPOX = beta-IEPOX + delta-IEPOX) and methacryloylperoxynitrate (MPAN), which are formed during isoprene oxidation under low- and high-NO(x) conditions, respectively. Isoprene low-NO(x) SOA is enhanced in the presence of acidified sulfate seed aerosol (mass yield 28.6%) over that in the presence of neutral aerosol (mass yield 1.3%). Increased uptake of IEPOX by acid-catalyzed particle-phase reactions is shown to explain this enhancement. Under high-NO(x) conditions, isoprene SOA formation occurs through oxidation of its second-generation product, MPAN. The similarity of the composition of SOA formed from the photooxidation of MPAN to that formed from isoprene and methacrolein demonstrates the role of MPAN in the formation of isoprene high-NO(x) SOA. Reactions of IEPOX and MPAN in the presence of anthropogenic pollutants (i.e., acidic aerosol produced from the oxidation of SO(2) and NO(2), respectively) could be a substantial source of "missing urban SOA" not included in current atmospheric models.
Pub.: 19 Jan '10, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: Forests emit large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the atmosphere. Their condensable oxidation products can form secondary organic aerosol, a significant and ubiquitous component of atmospheric aerosol, which is known to affect the Earth's radiation balance by scattering solar radiation and by acting as cloud condensation nuclei. The quantitative assessment of such climate effects remains hampered by a number of factors, including an incomplete understanding of how biogenic VOCs contribute to the formation of atmospheric secondary organic aerosol. The growth of newly formed particles from sizes of less than three nanometres up to the sizes of cloud condensation nuclei (about one hundred nanometres) in many continental ecosystems requires abundant, essentially non-volatile organic vapours, but the sources and compositions of such vapours remain unknown. Here we investigate the oxidation of VOCs, in particular the terpene α-pinene, under atmospherically relevant conditions in chamber experiments. We find that a direct pathway leads from several biogenic VOCs, such as monoterpenes, to the formation of large amounts of extremely low-volatility vapours. These vapours form at significant mass yield in the gas phase and condense irreversibly onto aerosol surfaces to produce secondary organic aerosol, helping to explain the discrepancy between the observed atmospheric burden of secondary organic aerosol and that reported by many model studies. We further demonstrate how these low-volatility vapours can enhance, or even dominate, the formation and growth of aerosol particles over forested regions, providing a missing link between biogenic VOCs and their conversion to aerosol particles. Our findings could help to improve assessments of biosphere-aerosol-climate feedback mechanisms, and the air quality and climate effects of biogenic emissions generally.
Pub.: 28 Feb '14, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: This study investigates the contribution of high-molecular weight dimer esters to laboratory-generated α-pinene gas- and particle-phase secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and particulate matter (PM) collected at the Nordic boreal forest site of Hyytiälä, Finland. Laboratory flow reactor experiments (25 °C) show that dimer esters from ozonolysis of α-pinene contribute between 5 and 16% of the freshly formed α-pinene particle-phase SOA mass. An increased level of formation is observed at a higher relative humidity of ∼40%, and the presence of a hydroxyl radical (OH) scavenger is shown to affect the formation of dimer esters. Of the 28 dimer esters identified in laboratory α-pinene SOA, 15 are also observed in ambient PM samples, contributing between 0.5 and 1.6% of the total PM1. The observed esters show good correlation with known α-pinene SOA tracers in collected PM samples. This work reveals an, until now, unrecognized contribution of dimer esters from α-pinene oxidation to boreal forest PM.
Pub.: 01 Jul '16, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: Much of our understanding of atmospheric secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation from volatile organic compounds derives from laboratory chamber measurements, including mass yield and elemental composition. These measurements alone are insufficient to identify the chemical mechanisms of SOA production. We present here a comprehensive dataset on the molecular identity, abundance, and kinetics of α-pinene SOA, a canonical system that has received much attention owing to its importance as an organic aerosol source in the pristine atmosphere. Identified organic species account for ∼58–72% of the α-pinene SOA mass, and are characterized as semivolatile/low-volatility monomers and extremely low volatility dimers, which exhibit comparable oxidation states yet different functionalities. Features of the α-pinene SOA formation process are revealed for the first time, to our knowledge, from the dynamics of individual particle-phase components. Although monomeric products dominate the overall aerosol mass, rapid production of dimers plays a key role in initiating particle growth. Continuous production of monomers is observed after the parent α-pinene is consumed, which cannot be explained solely by gas-phase photochemical production. Additionally, distinct responses of monomers and dimers to α-pinene oxidation by ozone vs. hydroxyl radicals, temperature, and relative humidity are observed. Gas-phase radical combination reactions together with condensed phase rearrangement of labile molecules potentially explain the newly characterized SOA features, thereby opening up further avenues for understanding formation and evolution mechanisms of α-pinene SOA.
Pub.: 02 Nov '15, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: Authors: Christopher M. Kenseth, Giuseppe A. Petrucci Article URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02786826.2016.1189074?ai=z4&mi=3fqos0&af=R Citation: Aerosol Science and Technology Publication Date: 2016-05-13T03:09:21Z Journal: Aerosol Science and Technology
Pub.: 13 May '16, Pinned: 31 Aug '17