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Comprehensive molecular characterization of secondary organic aerosol formation in the atmosphere

Objective

Key words: Atmospheric secondary organic aerosol, chemical ionization mass spectrometry

The increase in anthropogenic atmospheric aerosol since the industrial revolution has considerably mitigated the global warming caused by concurrent anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. However, the uncertainty in the magnitude of the aerosol climate influence is larger than that of any other man-made climate-perturbing component.

Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is one of the most prominent aerosol types, yet a detailed mechanistic understanding of its formation process is still lacking. We recently presented the ground-breaking discovery of a new important compound group in our publication in Nature: a prompt and abundant source of extremely low-volatility organic compounds (ELVOC), able to explain the majority of the SOA formed from important atmospheric precursors.

Quantifying the atmospheric role of ELVOCs requires further focused studies and I will start a research group with the main task of providing a comprehensive, quantitative and mechanistic understanding of the formation and evolution of SOA. Our recent discovery of an important missing component of SOA highlights the need for comprehensive chemical characterization of both the gas and particle phase composition.

This project will use state-of-the-art chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS), which was critical also in the detection of the ELVOCs. We will extend the applicability of CIMS techniques and conduct innovative experiments in both laboratory and field settings using a novel suite of instrumentation to achieve the goals set out in this project.

We will provide unprecedented insights into the compounds and mechanisms producing SOA, helping to decrease the uncertainties in assessing the magnitude of aerosol effects on climate. Anthropogenic SOA contributes strongly to air quality deterioration as well and therefore our results will find direct applicability also in this extremely important field.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/fossil energy/gas
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/organic chemistry
  • /natural sciences/chemical sciences/analytical chemistry/mass spectrometry

Call for proposal

ERC-2014-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

HELSINGIN YLIOPISTO
Address
Yliopistonkatu 3
00014 Helsingin Yliopisto
Finland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 892 221,25

Beneficiaries (1)

HELSINGIN YLIOPISTO
Finland
EU contribution
€ 1 892 221,25
Address
Yliopistonkatu 3
00014 Helsingin Yliopisto
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments