National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2008

Sources of particulate matter in the Northeastern United States in summer: 1. Direct emissions and secondary formation of organic matter in urban plumes

de Gouw, J.A., C.A. Brock, E.L. Atlas, T.S. Bates, F.C. Fehsenfeld, P.D. Goldan, J.S. Holloway, W.C. Kuster, B.M. Lerner, B.M. Matthew, A.M. Middlebrook, T.B. Onasch, R.E. Peltier, P.K. Quinn, C.J. Senff, A. Stohl, A.P. Sullivan, M. Trainer, C. Warneke, R.J. Weber, and E.J. Williams

J. Geophys. Res., 113, D08301, doi: 10.1029/2007JD009243 (2008)

Ship and aircraft measurements of aerosol organic matter (OM) and water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) were made in fresh and aged pollution plumes from major urban areas in the northeastern United States in the framework of the 2004 International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT) study. A large part of the variability in the data was quantitatively described by a simple parameterization from a previous study that uses measured mixing ratios of CO and either the transport age or the photochemical age of the sampled air masses. The results suggest that OM was mostly due to secondary formation from anthropogenic volatile organic compound (VOC) precursors in urban plumes. Approximately 37% of the secondary formation can be accounted for by the removal of aromatic precursors using newly published particulate mass yields for low-NOx conditions, which are significantly higher than previous results. Of the secondary formation, 63% remains unexplained and is possibly due to semivolatile precursors that are not measurable by standard gas chromatographic methods. The observed secondary OM in urban plumes may account for 35% of the total source of OM in the United States and 8.5% of the global OM source. OM is an important factor in climate and air quality issues, but its sources and formation mechanisms remain poorly quantified.

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