Substantial amounts of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) can be formed from isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX), which are oxidation products of isoprene mainly under low-NO conditions. Total IEPOX-SOA, which may include SOA formed from other parallel isoprene oxidation pathways, was quantified by applying positive matrix factorization (PMF) to aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements. The IEPOX-SOA fractions of organic aerosol (OA) in multiple field studies across several continents are summarized here and show consistent patterns with the concentration of gas-phase IEPOX simulated by the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model. During the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS), 78% of PMF-resolved IEPOX-SOA is accounted by the measured IEPOX-SOA molecular tracers (2-methyltetrols, C5-Triols, and IEPOX-derived organosulfate and its dimers), making it the highest level of molecular identification of an ambient SOA component to our knowledge. An enhanced signal at C5H6O+ (m/z 82) is found in PMF-resolved IEPOX-SOA spectra. To investigate the suitability of this ion as a tracer for IEPOX-SOA, we examine fC(5)H(6)O (fC(5)H(6)O = C5H6O+ / OA) across multiple field, chamber, and source data sets. A background of similar to 1.7 +/- 0.1 parts per thousand (parts per thousand = parts per thousand) is observed in studies strongly influenced by urban, biomass-burning, and other anthropogenic primary organic aerosol (POA). Higher background values of 3.1 +/- 0.6 parts per thousand are found in studies strongly influenced by monoterpene emissions. The average laboratory monoterpene SOA value (5.5 +/- 2.0 parts per thousand) is 4 times lower than the average for IEPOX-SOA (22 +/- 7 parts per thousand), which leaves some room to separate both contributions to OA. Locations strongly influenced by isoprene emissions under low-NO levels had higher fC(5)H(6)O (similar to 6.5 +/- 2.2 parts per thousand on average) than other sites, consistent with the expected IEPOX- SOA formation in those studies. fC(5)H(6)O in IEPOX- SOA is always elevated (12-40 parts per thousand) but varies substantially between locations, which is shown to reflect large variations in its detailed molecular composition. The low fC(5)H(6)O (< 3 parts per thousand) reported in non-IEPOX-derived isoprene-SOA from chamber studies indicates that this tracer ion is specifically enhanced from IEPOX- SOA, and is not a tracer for all SOA from isoprene. We introduce a graphical diagnostic to study the presence and aging of IEPOX- SOA as a triangle plot of f(CO2) vs. fC(5)H(6)O. Finally, we develop a simplified method to estimate ambient IEPOX- SOA mass concentrations, which is shown to perform well compared to the full PMF method. The uncertainty of the tracer method is up to a factor of similar to 2, if the fC(5)H(6)O of the local IEPOX- SOA is not available. When only unit mass-resolution data are available, as with the aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM), all methods may perform less well because of increased interferences from other ions at m/z 82. This study clarifies the strengths and limitations of the different AMS methods for detection of IEPOX- SOA and will enable improved characterization of this OA component.
A large data set including surface, aircraft, and laboratory observations of the atomic oxygen-to-carbon (O:C) and hydrogen-to-carbon (H:C) ratios of organic aerosol (OA) is synthesized and corrected using a recently reported method. The whole data set indicates a wide range of OA oxidation and a trajectory in the Van Krevelen diagram, characterized by a slope of -0.6, with variation across campaigns. We show that laboratory OA including both source and aged types explains some of the key differences in OA observed across different environments. However, the laboratory data typically fall below the mean line defined by ambient observations, and little laboratory data extend to the highest O:C ratios commonly observed in remote conditions. OA having both high O:C and high H:C are required to bridge the gaps. Aqueous-phase oxidation may produce such OA, but experiments under realistic ambient conditions are needed to constrain the relative importance of this pathway.
Real-time mass spectra of the non-refractory species in submicron aerosol particles were recorded in a tropical rainforest in the central Amazon Basin during the wet season from February to March 2008, as a part of the Amazonian Aerosol Characterization Experiment (AMAZE-08). Organic material accounted on average for more than 80% of the non-refractory submicron particle mass concentrations during the period of measurements. There was insufficient ammonium to neutralize sulfate. In this acidic, isoprene-rich, HO2-dominant environment, positive-matrix factorization of the time series of particle mass spectra identified four statistical factors to account for the 99% of the variance in the signal intensities of the organic constituents. The first factor was identified as associated with regional and local pollution and labeled "HOA" for its hydrocarbon-like characteristics. A second factor was associated with long-range transport and labeled "OOA-1" for its oxygenated characteristics. A third factor, labeled "OOA-2," was implicated as associated with the reactive uptake of isoprene oxidation products, especially of epoxydiols to acidic haze, fog, or cloud droplets. A fourth factor, labeled "OOA-3," was consistent with an association with the fresh production of secondary organic material (SOM) by the mechanism of gasphase oxidation of biogenic volatile organic precursors followed by gas-to-particle conversion of the oxidation products. The suffixes 1, 2, and 3 on the OOA labels signify ordinal ranking with respect to the extent of oxidation represented by the factor. The process of aqueous-phase oxidation of water-soluble products of gas-phase photochemistry might also have been associated to some extent with the OOA-2 factor. The campaign-average factor loadings had a ratio of 1.4 : 1 for OOA-2 : OOA-3, suggesting the comparable importance of particle-phase compared to gas-phase pathways for the production of SOM during the study period.
Elemental compositions of organic aerosol (OA) particles provide useful constraints on OA sources, chemical evolution, and effects. The Aerodyne high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) is widely used to measure OA elemental composition. This study evaluates AMS measurements of atomic oxygen-to-carbon (O : C), hydrogen-to-carbon (H : C), and organic mass-to-organic carbon (OM : OC) ratios, and of carbon oxidation state ((OS) over bar (C))for a vastly expanded laboratory data set of multifunctional oxidized OA standards. For the expanded standard data set, the method introduced by Aiken et al. (2008), which uses experimentally measured ion intensities at all ions to determine elemental ratios (referred to here as "Aiken-Explicit"), reproduces known O: C and H: C ratio values within 20% (average absolute value of relative errors) and 12%, respectively. The more commonly used method, which uses empirically estimated H2O+ and CO+ ion intensities to avoid gas phase air interferences at these ions (referred to here as "Aiken-Ambient"), reproduces O: C and H: C of multifunctional oxidized species within 28 and 14% of known values. The values from the latter method are systematically biased low, however, with larger biases observed for alcohols and simple diacids. A detailed examination of the H2O+, CO+, and CO2+ fragments in the high-resolution mass spectra of the standard compounds indicates that the Aiken-Ambient method underestimates the CO C and especially H2O+ produced from many oxidized species. Combined AMS-vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) ionization measurements indicate that these ions are produced by dehydration and decarboxylation on the AMS vaporizer (usually operated at 600 degrees C). Thermal decomposition is observed to be efficient at vaporizer temperatures down to 200 degrees C. These results are used together to develop an "Improved-Ambient" elemental analysis method for AMS spectra measured in air. The Improved-Ambient method uses specific ion fragments as markers to correct for molecular functionality-dependent systematic biases and reproduces known O : C (H : C) ratios of individual oxidized standards within 28% (13 %) of the known molecular values. The error in Improved-Ambient O : C (H : C) values is smaller for theoretical standard mixtures of the oxidized organic standards, which are more representative of the complex mix of species present in ambient OA. For ambient OA, the Improved-Ambient method produces O : C (H : C) values that are 27% (11 %) larger than previously published Aiken-Ambient values; a corresponding increase of 9% is observed for OM : OC values. These results imply that ambient OA has a higher relative oxygen content than previously estimated. The (OS) over bar (C) values calculated for ambient OA by the two methods agree well, however (average relative difference of 0.06 (OS) over bar (C) units). This indicates that (OS) over bar (C) is a more robust metric of oxidation than O : C, likely since (OS) over bar (C) is not affected by hydration or dehydration, either in the atmosphere or during analysis.