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Inorganic gas-aerosol partitioning in and around animal feeding operation plumes in northeastern Colorado in late summer 2021


Ammonia (NH3) from animal feeding operations (AFOs) is an important source of reactive nitrogen in the US, but despite its ramifications for air quality and ecosystem health, its near-source evolution remains understudied. To this end, Phase I of the Transport and Transformation of Ammonia (TRANS2Am) field campaign was conducted in the northeastern Colorado Front Range in summer 2021 and characterized atmospheric composition downwind of AFOs during 10 research flights. Airborne measurements of NH3, nitric acid (HNO3), and a suite of water-soluble aerosol species collected onboard the University of Wyoming King Air (UWKA) research aircraft present a unique opportunity to investigate the sensitivity of particulate matter (PM) formation to AFO emissions. We couple the observations with thermodynamic modeling to predict the seasonality of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) formation. We find that during TRANS2Am northeastern Colorado is consistently in the NH3-rich and HNO3-limited NH4NO3 formation regime. Further investigation using the Extended Aerosol Inorganics Model (E-AIM) reveals that summertime temperatures (mean: 23 ˚C) of northeastern Colorado, especially near the surface, inhibit NH4NO3 formation despite high NH3 concentrations (max: ≤ 114 ppbv). Lastly, we model and winter conditions to explore the seasonality of NH4NO3 formation and find that cooler temperatures could support substantially more NH4NO3 formation. Whereas summertime NH4NO3 only exceeds 1 µg m-3 ~10% of the time in summer, modeled NH4NO3 would exceed 1 µg m-3 61% (88%) of the time in spring/autumn (winter), with a 10°C (20°C) temperature decrease relative to the campaign.


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aerosol thermodynamic modeling
gas-aerosol partitioning


Associated Publications