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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Formation and growth of ultrafine particles from secondary sources in Bakersfield, California



[1] In this study, physical and chemical properties of ultrafine aerosol particles are investigated at an urban site in Bakersfield, California, during the CalNex 2010 (California Research at the Nexus of Air Quality and Climate Change) campaign in May and June. Ultrafine particle measurements include particle number size distributions by a scanning Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA) and size resolved aerosol chemical composition determined with a High-Resolution Time-of-Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS). Growth events of ultrafine particles were observed on most days and had a very regular pattern. A nucleation mode centered at ∼20 nm appeared in the morning and grew to 40–100 nm throughout the day. Microphysical modeling and size-resolved HR-ToF-AMS concentrations showed that organic components provided most of the particle growth in the ultrafine mode, and sulfate provided on most days only a minor contribution to the mass of this mode. The ultrafine particle mass was largely dominated by organics (77%), and was at maximum during the afternoon. Elemental carbon (EC) and the AMS tracer C4H9+ for hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol (HOA) peaked in the early morning during rush hour, indicative of primary emissions. The fact that the particle number concentration peaked in the afternoon, when EC was at minimum, indicates that the midday increase in number concentration was likely due to new particle formation. The potential importance of solar radiation, the condensation sink of vapor on existing particles, concentrations of OH, O3, SO2, NH3, and VOCs for both condensational growth and new particle formation is evaluated based on the covariation of these parameters with ultrafine mass. The results suggest that the ultrafine particles are from secondary sources that are co-emitted or co-produced with glyoxal and formaldehyde.

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