Analysis of new particle formation (NPF) events at nearby rural, urban background and urban roadside sites

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • CSIC - Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM)
  • Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Meteorology, Environment and Arid Land Agriculture, King Abdulaziz University
  • King Abdulaziz University

Abstract

New particle formation (NPF) events have different patterns of development depending on the conditions of the area in which they occur. In this study, particle size distributions in the range of 16.6-604 nm (7 years of data) were analysed and NPF events occurring at three sites of differing characteristics - rural Harwell (HAR), urban background North Kensington (NK), urban roadside Marylebone Road (MR), London, UK - were extracted and studied. The different atmospheric conditions in each study area not only have an effect on the frequency of the events, but also affect their development. The frequency of NPF events is similar at the rural and urban background locations (about 7% of days), with a high proportion of events occurring at both sites on the same day (45 %). The frequency of NPF events at the urban roadside site is slightly less (6% of days), and higher particle growth rates (average 5.5 nm h-1 at MR compared to 3.4 and 4.2 nm h-1 at HAR and NK respectively) must result from rapid gas-to-particle conversion of traffic-generated pollutants. A general pattern is found in which the condensation sink increases with the degree of pollution of the site, but this is counteracted by increased particle growth rates at the more polluted location. A key finding of this study is that the role of the urban environment leads to an increment of 20% in N16-20 nm in the urban background compared to that of the rural area in NPF events occurring at both sites. The relationship of the origin of incoming air masses is also considered and an association of regional events with cleaner air masses is found. Due to lower availability of condensable species, NPF events that are associated with cleaner atmospheric conditions have lower growth rates of the newly formed particles. The decisive effect of the condensation sink in the development of NPF events and the survivability of the newly formed particles is underlined, and influences the overall contribution of NPF events to the number of ultrafine particles in an area. The other key factor identified by this study is the important role that pollution, both from traffic and other sources in the urban environment (such as heating or cooking), plays in new particle formation events.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5679-5694
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume19
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas