Large Contributions from Biogenic Monoterpenes and Sesquiterpenes to Organic Aerosol in the Southeastern United States
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
Atmospheric organic aerosol (OA) has important impacts on climate and human health but its sources remain poorly understood. Biogenic monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes are critical precursors of OA. The OA generation from these precursors predicted by models has considerable uncertainty owing to a lack of appropriate observations as constraints. Here, we perform novel lab-in-the-field experiments, which allow us to study OA formation under realistic atmospheric conditions and offer a connection
... ffer a connection between laboratory and field studies. Based on the lab-in-the-field experimental approach and positive matrix factorization analysis on aerosol mass spectrometry data, we provide a measure of OA from monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes in the southeastern U.S. Further, we use an upgraded atmospheric model and reproduce the measured OA concentration from monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes at multiple sites in the southeastern U.S., building confidence in the observed attribution of monoterpene SOA. We show that the annual average concentration of OA from monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes in the southeastern U.S. is ~&thinsp;2.1&thinsp;µg&thinsp;m<sup>&minus;3</sup>. This amount is substantially higher than represented in current regional models and accounts for 21&thinsp;% of World Health Organization PM<sub>2.5</sub> standard, indicating a significant contributor of environmental risk to the 77 million habitants in the southeastern U.S.