Scientists Characterize Poorly Understood, Climate-Influencing Atmospheric Particles


The formation and transformation of primary and secondary organic aerosol particles in the atmosphere, both natural and manmade, influence Earth’s climate. Using the experimental capabilities at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), PNNL and Imre Consulting scientists created hydrophobic primary organic aerosols and hydrophilic secondary organic aerosols and studied their morphology using EMSL’s Single Particle Laser Ablation mass spectrometer (SPLAT II). The team’s analyses showed that layered particles, not mixed particles, were formed with properties distinct from those of the pure components. This type of analysis, on the numbers and properties of particles, will improve the accuracy and predictability of climate models. This work led to an invited paper in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on atmospheric science.


Vaden TD, C Song, RA Zaveri, D Imre, and A Zelenyuk. 2010. “Morphology of Mixed Primary and Secondary Organic Particles and the Adsorption of Spectator Organic Gases during Aerosol Formation.” 2010. PNAS 107: 6658-6663.