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Measurement of Ambient, Interstitial, and Residual Aerosol Particles on a Mountaintop Site in Central Sweden using an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer and a CVI


The Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer (Q-AMS) was coupled with a counterflow virtual impactor (CVI) for the first time to measure cloud droplet residuals of warm tropospheric clouds on Mt. Åreskutan in central Sweden in July 2003. Operating the CVI in different operational modes generated mass concentration and species-resolved mass distribution data for non-refractory species of the ambient, interstitial, and residual aerosol. The ambient aerosol measurements revealed that the aerosol at the site was mainly influenced by long-range transport and regional photochemical generation of nitrate and organic aerosol components. Four different major air masses were identified for the time interval of the experiment. While two air masses that approached the site from northeastern Europe via Finland showed very similar aerosol composition, the other two air masses from polar regions and the British Islands had a significantly different composition. During cloud events the larger aerosol particles were found to be activated into cloud droplets. On a mass basis the activation cut-off diameter was approximately 150 nm for nitrate and organics dominated particles and 200 nm for sulfate dominated particles. Generally nitrate and organics were found to be activated into cloud droplets with higher efficiency than sulfate. While a significant fraction of the nitrate in ambient particles was organic nitrates or nitrogen-containing organic species, the nitrate found in the cloud droplet residuals was mainly ammonium nitrate. After passage of clouds the ambient aerosol size distribution had shifted to smaller particle sizes due to the predominantly activation of larger aerosol particles without a significant change in the relative composition of the ambient aerosol.

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Correspondence to Frank Drewnick.

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Drewnick, F., Schneider, J., Hings, S.S. et al. Measurement of Ambient, Interstitial, and Residual Aerosol Particles on a Mountaintop Site in Central Sweden using an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer and a CVI. J Atmos Chem 56, 1–20 (2007).

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Key words

  • AMS
  • aerosol activation
  • CVI
  • scavenging