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  • Shrivastava, Manish; Cappa, Christopher D.; Fan, Jiwen; Goldstein, Allen H.; Guenther, Alex B.; Jimenez, Jose L.; Kuang, Chongai; Laskin, Alexander; Martin, Scot T.; Ng, Nga Lee; Petäjä, Tuukka; Pierce, Jeffrey R.; Rasch, Philip J.; Roldin, Pontus; Seinfeld, John H.; Shilling, John; Smith, James N.; Thornton, Joel A.; Volkamer, Rainer; Wang, Jian; Worsnop, Douglas R.; Zaveri, Rahul A.; Zelenyuk, Alla; Zhang, Qi (2017)
    Anthropogenic emissions and land use changes have modified atmospheric aerosol concentrations and size distributions over time. Understanding preindustrial conditions and changes in organic aerosol due to anthropogenic activities is important because these features (1) influence estimates of aerosol radiative forcing and (2) can confound estimates of the historical response of climate to increases in greenhouse gases. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA), formed in the atmosphere by oxidation of organic gases, represents a major fraction of global submicron-sized atmospheric organic aerosol. Over the past decade, significant advances in understanding SOA properties and formation mechanisms have occurred through measurements, yet current climate models typically do not comprehensively include all important processes. This review summarizes some of the important developments during the past decade in understanding SOA formation. We highlight the importance of some processes that influence the growth of SOA particles to sizes relevant for clouds and radiative forcing, including formation of extremely low volatility organics in the gas phase, acid-catalyzed multiphase chemistry of isoprene epoxydiols, particle-phase oligomerization, and physical properties such as volatility and viscosity. Several SOA processes highlighted in this review are complex and interdependent and have nonlinear effects on the properties, formation, and evolution of SOA. Current global models neglect this complexity and nonlinearity and thus are less likely to accurately predict the climate forcing of SOA and project future climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases. Efforts are also needed to rank the most influential processes and nonlinear process-related interactions, so that these processes can be accurately represented in atmospheric chemistry-climate models. Plain Language Summary Secondary organic aerosol (SOA), formed in the atmosphere by oxidation of organic gases, often represents a major fraction of global submicron-sized atmospheric organic aerosol. Myriad processes affect SOA formation, several of which relate to interactions between natural biogenic emissions and predominantly anthropogenic species such as SO2, NOx, sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium. Many of these key processes are nonlinear and can be synergistic or act to compensate each other in terms of climate forcing. Current atmospheric chemistry-climate models mostly do not treat these processes. We highlight a number of process-level mechanisms related to the interactions between anthropogenic and biogenic SOA precursors, for which the corresponding impacts on the radiative effects of SOA need to be investigated in atmospheric chemistry-climate models. Ultimately, climate models need to capture enough important features of the chemical and dynamic evolution of SOA, in terms of both aerosol number and aerosol mass, as a function of atmospheric variables and anthropogenic perturbations to reasonably predict the spatial and temporal distributions of SOA. A better understanding of SOA formation mechanisms and physical properties is needed to improve estimates of the extent to which anthropogenic emissions and land use changes have modified global aerosol concentrations and size distributions since preindustrial times.