Dependence of nucleation rates on sulfuric acid vapor concentration in diverse atmospheric locations

C. Kuang, P. H. McMurry, A. V. McCormick, F. L. Eisele

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258 Scopus citations

Abstract

Correlations between concentrations of newly formed particles and sulfuric acid vapor were analyzed for twenty one nucleation events measured in diverse continental and marine atmospheric environments. A simple power law model for formation rates of 1 nm particles, J1 = K · [H2SO4]p, where P and K are least squares parameters, was tested for each environment. We found that, to within experimental uncertainty, P = 2. Constraining P to 2, the prefactor Kkinetic ranges from 10-14 to 10-11 cm3s-1. According to the nucleation theorem, an exponent value of 2 indicates that the critical cluster contains two sulfuric acid molecules. Existing nucleation rate expressions based on classical nucleation theory predict significantly larger values of P. The prefactor values vary with environment and are 1 to 4 orders of magnitude below the hard-sphere collision limit. These results provide a simple parameterization for atmospheric new particle formation that could be used in global climate models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD10209
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Volume113
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - May 27 2008

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