Particulate sulphate and nitrate in southern England and Northern Ireland during 2002/3 and its formation in a photochemical trajectory model

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Daily measurements of sulphate and nitrate are reported from Harwell in southern England and Belfast in Northern Ireland for the period 2002/3. When the higher percentiles are compared with the mean concentration, nitrate reveals considerably greater episodicity than either sulphate or PM10 (measured by TEOM). A photochemical trajectory model using the Master Chemical Mechanism scheme has been used to predict daily concentrations of both nitrate and sulphate aerosol over the period March to August 2002 at the Belfast and Harwell sites. This has been carried out for daily samples using 72, 96 and 120 h air mass back trajectories obtained from both the British Atmospheric Data Centre and the HYSPLIT on-line service. Additionally, model simulations have been conducted for 5 trajectories generated through clustering of the trajectories for individual days. This reveals an under-prediction of the model associated particularly with trajectories originating from the European mainland. In general, the model performs reasonably well in simulating concentrations of both nitrate and sulphate, which is surprising given that the model does not account for processes requiring the presence of liquid water. This suggests that aqueous phase oxidation processes may not make a major contribution to airborne sulphate concentrations in the U.K. in the spring and summer months. It appears that inclusion of explicit ammonium nitrate formation chemistry may be essential to reliable prediction of episodic nitrate peaks. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-780
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2006


  • sulphate, back trajectory, nitrate, modelling, secondary aerosol, particulates