This study examines the role of aqueous secondary organic aerosol formation in the North American Sonoran Desert as a result of intense solar radiation, enhanced moisture, and biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs). The ratio of water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) to organic carbon (OC) nearly doubles during the monsoon season relative to other seasons of the year. When normalized by mixing height, the WSOC enhancement during monsoon months relative to preceding dry months (May–June) exceeds that of sulfate by nearly a factor of 10. WSOC:OC and WSOC are most strongly correlated with moisture parameters, temperature, and concentrations of O3 and BVOCs. No positive relationship was identified between WSOC or WSOC:OC and anthropogenic tracers such as CO over a full year. This study points at the need for further work to understand the effect of BVOCs and moisture in altering aerosol properties in understudied desert regions.
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