A method for the in situ measurement of fine aerosol water content of ambient aerosols: The dry-ambient aerosol size spectrometer (DAASS)
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Hygroscopic growth of atmospheric particles affects a number of environmentally important aerosol properties. Due to the hysteresis exhibited by the aerosol hygroscopic growth, the physical state of particles and the amount of aerosol water are uncertain within a wide range of relative humidities (RHs) found in the troposphere, leading to uncertainties in optical and chemical properties of the aerosol. Here we report the design and tests of an automated system that was built to assess the amount of aerosol water at atmospheric conditions. The system consists of two scanning mobility particle sizers (SMPS) and an aerodynamic particle sizer (APS) that measure the aerosol size distribution between 3 nm and 10 mum in diameter. The inlets of the instruments and their sheath air lines are equipped with computer-controlled valves that direct air through Nation dryers or bypass them. The Nation dryers dehydrate the air streams to below 30\% RH at which point ambient particles are expected to lose most or all water. The switch between the dried and the ambient conditions occurs every 7 min and is synchronized with the scan times of the aerosol spectrometers. In this way the system measures alternatively dried (below 30\% RH) and ambient aerosol size distributions. A comparison of the ambient RH and the dried RH size distributions and the corresponding integrated volume concentrations provides a measure of the physical state of particles and the amount of aerosol water. The aerosol water content can be treated as a growth factor or as an absolute quantity and can be calculated as a time series or as a function of RH (humidigram). When combined with aerosol composition measurements, the DAASS can be used to compare hygroscopic growth models and measurements.
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