Articles | Volume 12, issue 5
Research article
14 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 14 Mar 2012

Optical properties, morphology and elemental composition of atmospheric particles at T1 supersite on MILAGRO campaign

G. Carabali, R. Mamani-Paco, T. Castro, O. Peralta, E. Herrera, and B. Trujillo

Abstract. Atmospheric particles were sampled at T1 supersite during MILAGRO campaign, in March 2006. T1 was located at the north of Mexico City (MC). Aerosol sampling was done by placing copper grids for Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) on the last five of an 8-stage MOUDI cascade impactor. Samples were obtained at different periods to observe possible variations on morphology. Absorption and scattering coefficients, as well as particle concentrations (0.01–3 μm aerodynamic diameter) were measured simultaneously using a PSAP absorption photometer, a portable integrating nephelometer, and a CPC particle counter. Particle images were acquired at different magnifications using a CM 200 Phillips TEM-EDAX system, and then calculated the border-based fractal dimension. Also, Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS) was used to determine the elemental composition of particles. The morphology of atmospheric particles for two aerodynamic diameters (0.18 and 1.8 μm) was compared using border-based fractal dimension to relate it to the other particle properties, because T1-generated particles have optical, morphological and chemical properties different from those transported by the MC plume.

Particles sampled under MC pollution influence showed not much variability, suggesting that more spherical particles (border-based fractal dimension close to 1.0) are more common in larger sizes (d50 = 1.8 μm), which may be attributed to aerosol aging and secondary aerosol formation. Between 06:00 and 09:00 a.m., smaller particles (d50 = 0.18 μm) had more irregular shapes resulting in higher border-based fractal dimensions (1.2–1.3) for samples with more local influence. EDS analysis in d50 = 0.18 μm particles showed high contents of carbonaceous material, Si, Fe, K, and Co. Perhaps, this indicates an impact from industrial and vehicle emissions on atmospheric particles at T1.

Final-revised paper