Application of meteorology-based methods to determine local and external contributions to particulate matter pollution: A case study in Venice (Italy)

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The air quality is influenced by the potential effects of meteorology at meso- and synoptic scales. While local weather and mixing layer dynamics mainly drive the dispersion of sources at small scales, long-range transports affect the movements of air masses over regional, transboundary and even continental scales. Long-range transport may advect polluted air masses from hot-spots by increasing the levels of pollution at nearby or remote locations or may further raise air pollution levels where external air masses originate from other hot-spots. Therefore, the knowledge of ground-wind circulation and potential long-range transports is fundamental not only to evaluate how local or external sources may affect the air quality at a receptor site but also to quantify it. This review is focussed on establishing the relationships among PM2.5 sources, meteorological condition and air mass origin in the Po Valley, which is one of the most polluted areas in Europe. We have chosen the results from a recent study carried out in Venice (Eastern Po Valley) and have analysed them using different statistical approaches to understand the influence of external and local contribution of PM2.5 sources. External contributions were evaluated by applying Trajectory Statistical Methods (TSMs) based on back-trajectory analysis including (i) back-trajectories cluster analysis, (ii) potential source contribution function (PSCF) and (iii) concentration weighted trajectory (CWT). Furthermore, the relationships between the source contributions and ground-wind circulation patterns were investigated by using (iv) cluster analysis on wind data and (v) conditional probability function (CPF). Finally, local source contribution have been estimated by applying the Lenschow' approach.

In summary, the integrated approach of different techniques has successfully identified both local and external sources of particulate matter pollution in a European hot-spot affected by the worst air quality.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-81
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date14 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015