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Publication . Preprint . Other literature type . Article . 2022

A comprehensive study about the in-cloud processing of nitrate through coupled measurements of individual cloud residuals and cloud water

Guohua Zhang; Xiaodong Hu; Wei Sun; Yuxiang Yang; Ziyong Guo; Yuzhen Fu; Haichao Wang; +7 Authors
Open Access

While the formation and evolution of nitrate in airborne particles are extensively investigated, little is known about the processing of nitrate in clouds. Here we present a detailed investigation on the in-cloud formation of nitrate, based on the size-resolved mixing state of nitrate in the individual cloud residual and cloud-free particles obtained by single particle mass spectrometry, and also the mass concentrations of nitrate in the cloud water and PM2.5 at a mountain site (1690 m a.s.l. – above sea level) in southern China. The results show a significant enhancement of nitrate mass fraction and relative intensity of nitrate in the cloud water and the cloud residual particles, respectively, reflecting a critical role of in-cloud processing in the formation of nitrate. We first exclude the gas-phase scavenging of HNO3 and the facilitated activation of nitrate-containing particles as the major contribution for the enhanced nitrate, according to the size distribution of nitrate in individual particles. Based on regression analysis and theoretical calculations, we then highlight the role of N2O5 hydrolysis in the in-cloud formation of nitrate, even during the daytime, attributed to the diminished light in clouds. Nitrate is highly related (R2= ∼ 0.6) to the variations in [NOx][O3], temperature, and droplet surface area in clouds. Accounting for droplet surface area greatly enhances the predictability of the observed nitrate, compared with using [NOx][O3] and temperature. The substantial contribution of N2O5 hydrolysis to nitrate in clouds with diminished light during the daytime can be reproduced by a multiphase chemical box model. Assuming a photolysis rate at 30 % of the default setting, the overall contribution of N2O5 hydrolysis pathway to nitrate formation increases by ∼ 20 % in clouds. Given that N2O5 hydrolysis acts as a major sink of NOx in the atmosphere, further model updates would improve our understanding about the processes contributing to nitrate production in cloud and the cycling of odd nitrogen.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Medical Subject Headings: complex mixtures sense organs


Atmospheric Science

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