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Atmospheric Sciences; Department of Physics; Department of Chemistry


Soot particles form during combustion of carbonaceous materials and impact climate and air quality. When freshly emitted, they are typically fractal-like aggregates. After atmospheric aging, they can act as cloud condensation nuclei, and water condensation or evaporation restructure them to more compact aggregates, affecting their optical, aerodynamic, and surface properties. Here we survey the morphology of ambient soot particles from various locations and different environmental and aging conditions. We used electron microscopy and show extensive soot compaction after cloud processing. We further performed laboratory experiments to simulate atmospheric cloud processing under controlled conditions. We find that soot particles sampled after evaporating the cloud droplets, are significantly more compact than freshly emitted and interstitial soot, confirming that cloud processing, not just exposure to high humidity, compacts soot. Our findings have implications for how the radiative, surface, and aerodynamic properties, and the fate of soot particles are represented in numerical models.

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Scientific Reports

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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