Sea-salt aerosol (SSA) particles affect the Earth's radiative balance and moderate heterogeneous chemistry in the marine boundary layer. Using conventional and environmental transmission electron microscopes (ETEM), we investigated the hygroscopic growth and liquid-layer compositions of particles generated from three types of aqueous salt solutions: sodium chloride, laboratory-synthesized seawater (S-SSA particles), and natural seawater (N-SSA particles). Three levels of morphological change were observed with the ETEM as the laboratory-generated particles were exposed to increasing relative humidity (RH). The first level, onset of observable morphological changes, occurred on average at 70, 48, and 35% RH for the NaCl, S-SSA, and N-SSA particles, respectively. The second level, rounding, occurred at 74, 66, and 57% RH for NaCl, S-SSA, and N-SSA particles, respectively. The third level, complete deliquescence, occurred at 75% RH for all particles. Collected ambient SSA particles were also examined. With the exception of deliquescence, they did not exhibit the same hygroscopic characteristics as the NaCl particles. The ambient particles, however, behaved most similarly to the synthesized and natural SSA particles, although the onset of morphological change was slightly higher for the S-SSA particles. We used energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry to study the composition of the liquid layer formed on the S-SSA and N-SSA particles. The layer was enriched in Mg, S, and O relative to the solid particle core. An important implication of these results is that MgSO4-enriched solutions on the surface of SSA particles may be the solvents of many heterogeneous reactions.
Wise, Matthew E.; Freney, Evelyn J.; Tyree, Corey A.; Allen, Jonathan O.; Martin, Scot T.; Russell, Lynn M.; and Buseck, Peter R., "Hygroscopic Behavior and Liquid-Layer Composition of Aerosol Particles Generated from Natural and Artificial Seawater" (2009). Faculty Research. 61.