A review of particle formation events and growth in the atmosphere in the various environments and discussion of mechanistic implications

Holmes, Nicholas S. (2007) A review of particle formation events and growth in the atmosphere in the various environments and discussion of mechanistic implications. Atmospheric Environment, 41(10), pp. 2183-2201.

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This review highlights recent observations from a large number of studies investigating formation and growth within different environments and discusses the importance of various mechanisms of particle formation and growth between the different environments. Whilst, several mechanisms for new particle formation have been proposed the importance of each mechanism is still the centre of much debate. Proposed nucleation mechanisms include condensation of a binary mixture of sulfuric acid and water; ternary nucleation of sulfuric acid, water and a third molecule, most likely ammonia; ion induced nucleation; secondary organic aerosol formation involving condensation of low or non volatile organic compounds and homogeneous nucleation of iodine oxides. Laboratory and modelling studies have shown these mechanisms can occur in the atmosphere although the contribution depends on the concentrations of precursor compounds present. In addition, atmospheric particle formation events are significantly affected by environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity and the surface area of pre-existing particles, which is also discussed here. One major problem hampering our current understanding is that these new particles are smaller than the lower size detection limit of most instruments and are only observed after some particle growth has occurred. Particles growth occurs through condensation of supersaturated vapours on the surface of the nucleated particles. This requires a lower degree of supersaturation than nucleation and thus condensation of the nucleating species reduces the rate of particle formation. Therefore, it is believed that particle growth often occurs through the condensation of other gases, including organic and inorganic compounds, than those responsible for nucleation. This decoupling of nucleation and growth means that the individual gases responsible for nucleation and growth can be unclear. Since observations of particle formation only occur following growth to observable sizes it is possible that a pool of undetectable particles exist at all times but are only observed following significant condensational growth.

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109 citations in Scopus
99 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 5874
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Aerosols, Nucleation, Growth, Particles
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2006.10.058
ISSN: 1352-2310
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
Deposited On: 18 Dec 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:36

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