J. Phys. IV France
Volume 139, December 2006
Page(s) 239 - 256
From Regional Climate Modelling to the Exploration of Venus
C. Boutron
J. Phys. IV France 139 (2006) 239-256

DOI: 10.1051/jp4:2006139017

Inorganic aerosol formation and growth in the Earth's lower and upper atmosphere

R.W. Saunders and J.M.C. Plane

School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

(Published online: 9 January 2007)

This chapter describes the photo-chemical production of aerosol particles in two very different regions of the atmosphere: iodine oxide particles in the marine boundary layer (MBL), and meteoric smoke particles that form in the upper mesosphere from the ablation of interplanetary dust. These two systems are surprisingly analogous - the source of the condensable inorganic vapours is external to the atmosphere, being injected into the atmosphere from the ocean or from space - and the particles are formed by homogeneous nucleation. The purpose of the chapter is to describe a laboratory and modelling study to understand at a fundamental level how the nucleation and growth of the particles occurs. Iodine oxide particles were produced from the photo-oxidation of gaseous I2 with O3, which is most likely the primary photo-chemical route to produce the bursts of new particles observed in the MBL at seaweed-rich coastal locations. The captured particles were observed to be fractal-like (i.e., with open or non-compact structures), and to be composed of the stable oxide I2O5. Meteoric smoke analogues of iron oxide, silicon oxide, and iron silicate composition were similarly formed from the photo-oxidation of iron- and silicon-containing gas-phase precursors in the presence of O3. Imaging of the iron-containing particles showed them to be extended, fractal aggregates. For each system, models were developed to elucidate the growth kinetics of the particles and to characterise them in terms of standard fractal parameters. I2O5 particles were found to have a fractal dimension (Df) value of 2.5 at long growth times, consistent with a particle-cluster diffusion-limited aggregation (DLA) mechanism, whereas smoke analogues had lower Df values (1.75) which appear to result from a magnetic aggregation process.

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