Wenyi Yang1,2, Jie Li 1,2, Ming Wang3, Yele Sun1, Zifa Wang1,2

LAPC, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
Center for Excellence in Urban Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

Received: October 27, 2017
Revised: May 14, 2018
Accepted: May 23, 2018
Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2017.10.0415  

Cite this article:
Yang, W., Li, J., Wang, M., Sun, Y. and Wang, Z. (2018). A Case Study of Investigating Secondary Organic Aerosol Formation Pathways in Beijing using an Observation-based SOA Box Model. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 18: 1606-1616. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2017.10.0415


  • SOA formation pathways in Beijing was examined by an observation-based box model.
  • The SOA formation rate was 30.3 µg m–3 day–1 in Beijing during the study period.
  • The contribution of IVOCs to SOA was dominant compared with that from VOCs and POA.



Current modeling studies have underestimated secondary organic aerosol (SOA) levels in China to a larger degree than over Europe and the United States. In this study, we investigated the SOA formation pathways in urban Beijing for the period of November 7–8, 2014, using an observation-constrained box model in which the multigenerational oxidation processes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and intermediate VOCs (IVOCs) and the chemical aging of semi-volatile primary organic aerosols (POAs) were taken into account. The results demonstrated that the SOA formation rate was 30.3 µg m–3 day–1 in Beijing during the 2-day study period. The contributions of VOCs, IVOCs, and POAs to the SOA levels were 14%, 82%, and 4%, respectively. IVOC contributions were on a scale similar to the magnitude of underestimation in a previous study. The uncertainty analysis showed that SOA levels during the study period were 55.4–102.4 µg m–3 (the 25th and 75th percentiles of the sensitivity simulations). The contribution of IVOCs to the SOA formation was dominant compared with that of VOCs and POAs. A more precise IVOC oxidation mechanism can thus improve the performance of the SOA model in China.

Keywords: Secondary organic aerosol; Observation-based SOA model; Formation pathway; Intermediate volatile organic compound; Beijing


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