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Effect of ions on sulfuric acid-water binary particle formation I: Theory for kinetic and nucleation-type particle formation and atmospheric implications

Abstract : We derive a version of Classical Nucleation Theory normalized by quantum chemical results on sulfuric acid-water hydration to describe neutral and ion-induced particle formation in the binary sulfuric acid-water system. The theory is extended to treat the kinetic regime where the nucleation free energy barrier vanishes at high sulfuric acid concentrations or low temperatures. In the kinetic regime particle formation rates become proportional to sulfuric acid concentration to second power in the neutral system or first power in the ion-induced system. We derive simple general expressions for the prefactors in kinetic-type and activation-type particle formation calculations applicable also to more complex systems stabilized by other species. The theory predicts that the binary water-sulfuric acid system can produce strong new particle formation in the free troposphere both through barrier crossing and through kinetic pathways. At cold stratospheric and upper free tropospheric temperatures neutral formation dominates the binary particle formation rates. At midtropospheric temperatures the ion-induced pathway becomes the dominant mechanism. However, even the ion-induced binary mechanism does not produce significant particle formation in warm boundary layer conditions, as it requires temperatures below 0°C to take place at atmospheric concentrations. The theory successfully reproduces the characteristics of measured charged and neutral binary particle formation in CERN CLOUD3 and CLOUD5 experiments, as discussed in a companion paper.
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Joonas Merikanto, Jonathan Duplissy, Anni Määttänen, Henning Henschel, Neil M. Donahue, et al.. Effect of ions on sulfuric acid-water binary particle formation I: Theory for kinetic and nucleation-type particle formation and atmospheric implications. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, American Geophysical Union, 2016, 121 (4), pp.1736-1751. ⟨10.1002/2015JD023538⟩. ⟨insu-01240821⟩

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