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An analysis of rapid increases in condensation nuclei concentrations at a remote coastal site in western Ireland.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • J. L. Grenfell
  • R. M. Harrison
  • A. G. Allen
  • J. P. Shi
  • S. A. Penkett
  • C. D. O’Dowd
  • M. H. Smith
  • M. K. Hill
  • L. Robertson
  • CN Hewitt
  • B. M. Davison
  • A. C. Lewis
  • D. J. Creasey
  • D. E. Heard
  • K. Hebestreit
  • B. Alicke
  • J. James
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1999
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue numberD11
Number of pages392
Pages (from-to)13771-13380
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Massive “bursts” in condensation nuclei (CN) concentration were recorded at a remote site on the west Irish coast during campaigns in summer 1996 and spring/summer 1997. Number concentrations of 3–7 nm diameter CN were observed to rise daily from 102–103 up to ∼105 /cm3 for 1–3 hours. Data were collected as part of the Atmospheric Chemistry Studies in the Oceanic Environment program. In a previous paper the burst phenomenon was linked to the movement of the tide, and it was suggested that enhanced biogenic emissions occurred near low tide with concomitant rapid homogeneous gas phase CN formation. In this paper possible chemical mechanisms for the burst phenomenon are investigated. Two approaches are adopted. First, by assuming a 20:80 sulfate:water molar composition and calculating the number distribution using data from condensation particle counters, the total mass of CN formed during a burst is evaluated. This is compared with that mass of sulfate produced by OH-initiated dimethyl sulfide (DMS) oxidation. The procedure is termed “mass balance.” Second, a variety of chemical species are coplotted with tidal height. DMS oxidation is not believed to play a major role in CN formation at this site because (1) the mass balance calculations imply ambient DMS concentrations higher than those observed, and (2) gas phase HCl, HNO3, SO2, and NH3 did not exhibit any discernible correlation with tidal height. Further, none of the suite of observed nonmethane hydrocarbons or DMS showed a tidal relation. No mechanism has to date been convincingly identified for the burst phenomenon.