Interpretation of particle number size distributions measured across an urban area during the FASTER campaign

Roy M. Harrison*, David C.S. Beddows, Mohammed S. Alam, Ajit Singh, James Brean, Ruixin Xu, Simone Kotthaus, Sue Grimmond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


Particle number size distributions have been measured simultaneously by scanning mobility particle sizers (SMPSs) at five sites in central London for a 1 month campaign in January-February 2017. These measurements were accompanied by condensation particle counters (CPCs) to measure total particle number count at four of the sites and Aethalometers measuring black carbon (BC) at five sites. The spatial distribution and inter-relationships of the particle size distribution and SMPS total number counts with CPC total number counts and black carbon measurements have been analysed in detail as well as variations in the size distributions. One site (Marylebone Road) was in a street canyon with heavy traffic, one site (Westminster University) was on a rooftop adjacent to the Marylebone Road sampler, and a further sampler was located at Regent's University within a major park to the north of Marylebone Road. A fourth sampler was located nearby at 160 m above ground level on the BT tower and a fifth sampler was located 4 km to the west of the main sampling region at North Kensington. Consistent with earlier studies it was found that the mode in the size distribution had shifted to smaller sizes at the Regent's University (park) site, the mean particle shrinkage rate being 0.04 nm s-1 with slightly lower values at low wind speeds and some larger values at higher wind speeds. There was evidence of complete evaporation of the semi-volatile nucleation mode under certain conditions at the elevated BT Tower site. While the SMPS total count and black carbon showed typical traffic-dominated diurnal profiles, the CPC count data typically peaked during night-time as did CPC/BC ratios. This is thought to be due to the presence of high concentrations of small particles (2.5-15 nm diameter) probably arising from condensational growth from traffic emissions during the cooler night-time conditions. Such behaviour was most marked at the Regent's University and Westminster University sites and less so at Marylebone Road, while at the elevated BT Tower site the ratio of particle number (CPC) to black carbon peaked during the morning rush hour and not at night-time, unlike the other sites. An elevation in nucleation mode particles associated with winds from the west and WSW sector was concluded to result from emissions from London Heathrow Airport, despite a distance of 22 km from the central London sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Interpretation of particle number size distributions measured across an urban area during the FASTER campaign'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this