Neighbourhood-scale dispersion of traffic-induced ultrafine particles in central London: WRF large eddy simulations

Jian Zhong, Irina Nikolova, Xiaoming Cai, A. Rob Mackenzie, Mohammed S. Alam, Ruixin Xu, Ajit Singh, Roy M. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Downloads (Pure)


Traffic-generated ultrafine particles (UFPs) in the urban atmosphere have a high proportion of their composition comprised of semi-volatile compounds (SVOCs). The evaporation/condensation processes of these SVOCs can alter UFP number size distributions and play an important role in determining the fate of UFPs in urban areas. The neighbourhood-scale dispersion (over distances < 1 km) and evolution of traffic-generated UFPs for a real-world street network in central London was simulated by using the WRF-LES model (the large eddy simulation mode of the Weather Research and Forecasting modelling system) coupled with multicomponent microphysics. The neighbourhood scale dispersion of UFPs was significantly influenced by the spatial pattern of the real-world street emissions. Model output indicated the shrinkage of the peak diameter from the emitted profile to the downwind profile, due to an evaporation process during neighbourhood-scale dispersion. The dilution process and the aerosol microphysics interact with each other during the neighbourhood dispersion of UFPs, yielding model output that compares well with measurements made at a location downwind of an intense roadside source. The model captured the total SVOC concentrations well, with overestimations for gas concentrations and underestimations for particle concentrations, particularly of the lighter SVOCs. The contribution of the intense source, Marylebone Road (MR) in London, to concentrations at the downwind location (as estimated by a model scenario with emissions from MR only) is comparable with that of the rest of the street network (a scenario without emissions from MR), implying that both are important. An appreciable level of non-linearity is demonstrated for nucleation mode UFPs and medium range carbon SVOCs at the downwind receptor site.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115223
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue numberPart 3
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work is part of the FASTER project, ERC-2012-AdG, Proposal No. 320821 sponsored by the European Research Council (ERC) . JZ, XC, and ARMK gratefully acknowledge additional support from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC: NE/N003195/1 (JZ, XC, ARMK) and NE/S013814/1 (XC, ARMK)). The authors appreciate the regional HPC Midlands+ service ( ) and the University of Birmingham’s BlueBEAR HPC service ( ) for providing the computational resources. Ceilometer data provided by Prof Sue Grimmond, London Urban Micromet data Archive (LUMA).


  • Multicomponent microphysics
  • Nucleation mode
  • Semi-volatile organic compounds
  • Urban air quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Neighbourhood-scale dispersion of traffic-induced ultrafine particles in central London: WRF large eddy simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this