Geophysical Research Letters

No evidence for acid-catalyzed secondary organic aerosol formation in power plant plumes over metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia

Authors

  • R. E. Peltier,

    1. School of Earth and Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • A. P. Sullivan,

    1. School of Earth and Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • R. J. Weber,

    1. School of Earth and Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • A. G. Wollny,

    1. Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    2. Also at Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
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  • J. S. Holloway,

    1. Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    2. Also at Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
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  • C. A. Brock,

    1. Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA
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  • J. A. de Gouw,

    1. Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    2. Also at Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.
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  • E. L. Atlas

    1. Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA
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Abstract

[1] Aircraft-based measurements of the water-soluble fraction of fine PM organic carbon (WSOC) and inorganic salt composition in the Atlanta, GA region were conducted in the summer of 2004. Five notable plumes of SO2, apparently from coal-fired power plants, were intercepted, and had NH4+/SO42− molar ratios ranging from approximately 0.8 to 1.4 compared to molar ratios near 2 outside of the plumes. Sulfate aerosol concentrations increased from a regional background of 5–8 μg m−3 to as high as 19.5 μg m−3 within these plumes. No increase in WSOC concentrations was observed in plumes compared to out-of-plumes within a WSOC measurement uncertainty of 8%. These measurements suggest that secondary organic aerosol formation via heterogeneous acid-catalyzed reactions within power plant plumes are not likely a significant contributor to the ambient aerosol mass loading in Atlanta and the surrounding region. Because this region is rich in both biogenic and anthropogenic volatile organic carbon (VOC), the results may be widely applicable.

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