25 Apr 2023
 | 25 Apr 2023

Analysis of atmospheric particle growth based on vapor concentrations measured at the high-altitude GAW station Chacaltaya in the Bolivian Andes

Arto Heitto, Cheng Wu, Diego Aliaga, Luis Blacutt, Xuemeng Chen, Yvette Gramlich, Liine Heikkinen, Wei Huang, Radovan Krejci, Paolo Laj, Isabel Moreno, Karine Sellegri, Fernando Velarde, Kay Weinhold, Alfred Wiedensohler, Qiaozhi Zha, Federico Bianchi, Marcos Andrade, Kari E. J. Lehtinen, Claudia Mohr, and Taina Yli-Juuti

Abstract. Early growth of atmospheric particles is essential for their survival and ability to participate in cloud formation. Many different atmospheric vapors contribute to the growth, but even the main contributors still remain poorly identified in many environments, such as high-altitude sites. Based on measured organic vapor and sulfuric acid concentrations under ambient conditions, particle growth during new particle formation events was simulated and compared with the measured particle size distribution at Chacaltaya Global Atmosphere Watch station in Bolivia (5240 m a.s.l.) during April and May 2018, as a part of the SALTENA (Southern Hemisphere high-ALTitude Experiment on particle Nucleation and growth) campaign . The simulations showed that the detected vapors were sufficient to explain the observed particle growth, although some discrepancies were found between modelled and measured particle growth rates. This study gives an insight on the key factors affecting the particle growth on the site. Low volatile organic compounds were found to be the main contributor to the particle growth, covering on average 65 % of simulated particle mass in particle with diameter of 40 nm In addition, sulfuric acid had a major contribution to the particle growth, covering at maximum 39 % of simulated particle mass in 40 nm particle during periods when volcanic activity was detected on the area, suggesting that volcanic emissions can greatly enhance the particle growth.

Arto Heitto et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-526', Anonymous Referee #1, 28 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-526', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Jun 2023
  • AC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-526', Arto Heitto, 15 Sep 2023

Arto Heitto et al.

Model code and software

MODNAG Arto Heitto

Arto Heitto et al.


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Short summary
Particle growth at Chacaltaya station in Bolivia was simulated based on measured vapor concentrations and ambient conditions. Major contributors to the simulated growth were low volatile organic compounds (LVOC). Also sulfuric acid had major role when volcanic activity was occurring in the area. This study provides insight on nanoparticle growth at this high-altitude Southern Hemispheric site and hence contributes to building the knowledge on early growth of atmospheric particles.