A European Aerosol Phenomenology -4: Harmonized Concentrations of Carbonaceous Aerosol at 10 Regional Background Sites Across Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • F. Cavalli
  • A. Alastuey
  • H. Areskoug
  • D. Ceburnis
  • J. Cech
  • J. Genberg
  • J.L. Jaffrezo
  • G. Kiss
  • P. Laj
  • N. Mihalopoulos
  • N. Perez
  • P. Quincey
  • J. Schwarz
  • K. Sellegri
  • G. Spindler
  • E. Swietlicki
  • C. Theodosi
  • K.E. Yttri
  • W. Aas
  • J.P. Putaud

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Department of Environmental Sciences / Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80203, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia
  • European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra
  • Instituto de Diagnostico Ambiental y Estudios Del Agua, Barcelona, Spain
  • Stockholm University, ACES
  • School of Physics and Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway
  • Czeh Hydrometeorological Institute
  • Lund University, Department of Physics, Division of Nuclear Physics
  • Universite Grenoble-Alpes / CNRS
  • MTA-PE Air Chemistry Research Group
  • Universite Grenoble-Alpes / CNRS
  • Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Institute for Environmental Research & Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens
  • University of Crete, Chemistry Department
  • Instituto de Diagnostico Ambiental y Esudios Del Agua
  • Environment Division, National Physical Laboratory
  • Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals CAS
  • Laboratoire de Meteorologie Physique LaMP-CNRS/OPGC, Universite Blaise Pascal
  • Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research
  • Department of Physics, Lund University
  • University of Crete, Chemistry Department
  • NILU-Norwegian Institute for Air Research


Although particulate organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC) are important constituents of the suspended atmospheric particulate matter (PM), measurements of OC and EC are much less common and more uncertain than measurements of e.g. the ionic components of PM. In the framework of atmospheric research infrastructures supported by the European Union, actions have been undertaken to determine and mitigate sampling artefacts, and assess the comparability of OC and EC data obtained in a network of 10 atmospheric observatories across Europe. Positive sampling artefacts (from 0.4 to 2.8 μg C/m3) and analytical discrepancies (between −50% and +40% for the EC/TC ratio) have been taken into account to generate a robust data set, from which we established the phenomenology of carbonaceous aerosols at regional background sites in Europe. Across the network, TC and EC annual average concentrations range from 0.4 to 9 μg C/m3, and from 0.1 to 2 μg C/m3, respectively. TC/PM10 annual mean ratios range from 0.11 at a Mediterranean site to 0.34 at the most polluted continental site, and TC/PM2.5 ratios are slightly greater at all sites (0.15–0.42). EC/TC annual mean ratios range from 0.10 to 0.22, and do not depend much on PM concentration levels, especially in winter. Seasonal variations in PM and TC concentrations, and in TC/PM and EC/TC ratios, differ across the network, which can be explained by seasonal changes in PM source contributions at some sites.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-145
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date28 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Carbonaceous, Europe, Phenomenology, PM, Aerosol