Research highlights: laboratory studies of the formation and transformation of atmospheric organic aerosols
Atmospheric particles are emitted from a variety of anthropogenic and natural precursors and have direct impacts on climate, by scattering solar irradiation and nucleating clouds, and on health, by causing oxidative stress in the lungs when inhaled. They may also form from gaseous precursors, creating complex mixtures of organic and inorganic material. The chemical composition and the physical properties of aerosols will evolve during their one-week lifetime which will consequently change their impact on climate and health. The heterogeneity of aerosols is difficult to model and thus atmospheric aerosol research strives to characterize the mechanisms involved in nucleating and transforming particles in the atmosphere. Recent advances in four laboratory studies of aerosol formation and aging are highlighted here.