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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
01 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).
Superaggregates or instrument artifact?
Ashley M. Pierce1, S. Marcela Loría-Salazar2, W. Patrick Arnott2, Grant C. Edwards3, Matthieu B. Miller3, and Mae Sexauer Gustin1 1Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Nevada Reno, NV, USA 89557
2Atmospheric Science Program, Department of Physics, University of Nevada Reno, NV, USA 89557
3Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Abstract. Previous studies have indicated that superaggregates, clusters of aggregates of soot primary particles, can be formed in large-scale turbulent fires. High intensity fires may also produce the right circumstances to inject plumes into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere during pyrocumulonimbus thunderstorms, where the superaggregates can then be transported long distances. Due to lower effective densities, higher porosity, and lower aerodynamic diameters, superaggregates may be deposited past inlets designed to stop particles < 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5). Ambient particulate matter samples were collected at Peavine Peak, NV, USA (2515 m) northwest of Reno, NV, USA from June to November 2014. The Teledyne Advanced Pollution Instrumentation (TAPI) 602 BetaPlus particulate monitor was used to collect PM2.5 on two filter types. During this time, particles > 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter were collected on 36 days. On preliminary analysis, it was thought that these particles were superaggregates, depositing past PM10 (particles < 10 µm in aerodynamic diameter) pre-impactors and PM2.5 cyclones. However, further analysis revealed that these particles were dissimilar to superaggregates observed in previous studies. To determine if the particles were superaggregates or an instrument artifact, elemental analysis, presence of fires, high relative humidity and wind speeds, as well as the use of generators onsite were investigated. Samples with aggregates were analyzed using a scanning electron microscope for size and shape of the aggregates and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy was used for elemental analysis. It was determined that a sampling artifact associated with sample inlet setup and prolonged, high wind events were the probably reason for the observed aggregates.

Citation: Pierce, A. M., Loría-Salazar, S. M., Arnott, W. P., Edwards, G. C., Miller, M. B., and Sexauer Gustin, M.: Superaggregates or instrument artifact?, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Ashley M. Pierce et al.
Ashley M. Pierce et al.
Ashley M. Pierce et al.


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Short summary
This paper investigates the possible sources of anomalous particulate matter collected at a high elevation site during June to November 20114. Particles were collected on a sample filter that were > 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter, on a system that theoretically should not collect particulate matter that large. These samples indicated that either the observed particles had unique dimensions and behavior or that there was an issue with the particulate monitor.
This paper investigates the possible sources of anomalous particulate matter collected at a high...