Size-dependent influence of NOx on the growth rates of organic aerosol particles

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Science Advances  27 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 22, eaay4945
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay4945


Atmospheric new-particle formation (NPF) affects climate by contributing to a large fraction of the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) drive the early particle growth and therefore substantially influence the survival of newly formed particles to CCN. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is known to suppress the NPF driven by HOMs, but the underlying mechanism remains largely unclear. Here, we examine the response of particle growth to the changes of HOM formation caused by NOx. We show that NOx suppresses particle growth in general, but the suppression is rather nonuniform and size dependent, which can be quantitatively explained by the shifted HOM volatility after adding NOx. By illustrating how NOx affects the early growth of new particles, a critical step of CCN formation, our results help provide a refined assessment of the potential climatic effects caused by the diverse changes of NOx level in forest regions around the globe.

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