The occurrence of sulfuric acid-water nucleation in plumes: Urban environment

Veli Matti Kerminen, Anthony S. Wexler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The production of new sulfuric acid-water particles via homogeneous nucleation was examined in plumes originating from urban point sources. The problem was approached by modeling the time development of the gas phase sulfuric acid concentration during the plume transport, and thereby identifying the meteorological, source-related, and environmental variables governing the behavior of this system. The development of the plume nucleation probability was shown to be dictated by a complicated and nonlinear interaction between the plume dispersion, chemistry, and condensation of sulfuric acid from the gas phase. For all the simulated plumes, those originating from stronger sources and dispersing at slower rates, or having higher SO2 to fine paniculate matter ratios, or higher SO2 to NOx concentration ratios, showed greater nucleation probabilities indicative of a higher capability for producing new particles. Nucleation was also favored by cool and humid ambient conditions, greater actinic flux, and higher background hydrocarbon concentrations. The most effective way to decrease the plume nucleation probability was to decrease SO2 emissions alone. Reducing NOx or particle emissions may decrease the total paniculate mass but leads to higher plume nucleation probabilities, which is likely to increase particle number concentrations farther downwind of the source.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalTellus, Series B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The occurrence of sulfuric acid-water nucleation in plumes: Urban environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this