Glyoxal (CHOCHO), the simplest dicarbonyl in the troposphere, is a potential precursor for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and brown carbon (BrC) affecting air quality and climate. The airborne measurement of CHOCHO concentrations during the KORUS-AQ (KORea–US Air Quality study) campaign in 2016 enables detailed quantification of loss mechanisms pertaining to SOA formation in the real atmosphere. The production of this molecule was mainly from oxidation of aromatics (59 %) initiated by hydroxyl radical (OH). CHOCHO loss to aerosol was found to be the most important removal path (69 %) and contributed to roughly ∼ 20 % (3.7 µg sm−3 ppmv−1 h−1, normalized with excess CO) of SOA growth in the first 6 h in Seoul Metropolitan Area. A reactive uptake coefficient (γ) of ∼ 0.008 best represents the loss of CHOCHO by surface uptake during the campaign. To our knowledge, we show the first field observation of aerosol surface-area-dependent (Asurf) CHOCHO uptake, which diverges from the simple surface uptake assumption as Asurf increases in ambient condition. Specifically, under the low (high) aerosol loading, the CHOCHO effective uptake rate coefficient, keff,uptake, linearly increases (levels off) with Asurf; thus, the irreversible surface uptake is a reasonable (unreasonable) approximation for simulating CHOCHO loss to aerosol. Dependence on photochemical impact and changes in the chemical and physical aerosol properties “free water”, as well as aerosol viscosity, are discussed as other possible factors influencing CHOCHO uptake rate. Our inferred Henry's law coefficient of CHOCHO, 7.0×108 M atm−1, is ∼ 2 orders of magnitude higher than those estimated from salting-in effects constrained by inorganic salts only consistent with laboratory findings that show similar high partitioning into water-soluble organics, which urges more understanding on CHOCHO solubility under real atmospheric conditions.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics



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This is an open access article published by EGU in 2022 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, available online: https://dx.doi.org/10.5194/acp-22-805-2022