Articles | Volume 12, issue 12
Research article
28 Jun 2012
Research article |  | 28 Jun 2012

Semi-continuous gas and inorganic aerosol measurements at a Finnish urban site: comparisons with filters, nitrogen in aerosol and gas phases, and aerosol acidity

U. Makkonen, A. Virkkula, J. Mäntykenttä, H. Hakola, P. Keronen, V. Vakkari, and P. P. Aalto

Abstract. Concentrations of 5 gases (HCl, HNO3, HONO, NH3, SO2) and 8 major inorganic ions in particles (Cl, NO3, SO42−, NH4+, Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+) were measured with an online monitor MARGA 2S in two size ranges, Dp <2.5 μm and Dp < 10 μm, in Helsinki, Finland from November 2009 to May 2010. The results were compared with filter sampling, mass concentrations obtained from particle number size distributions, and a conventional SO2 monitor. The MARGA yielded lower concentrations than those analyzed from the filter samples for most ions. Linear regression yielded the following MARGA vs. filter slopes: 0.72 for Cl, 0.90 for NO3, 0.85 for SO42−, 0.91 for NH4+ , 0.49 for Na+, 3.0 for Mg2+, and 3.0 for Ca2+ and 0.90 for the MARGA vs. SO2 monitor. For K+ there were not enough data points to calculate a statistically significant linear regression. There were clear seasonal cycles in the concentrations of the nitrogen-containing gases: the median concentrations of HNO3, HONO, and NH3 were 0.09 ppb, 0.37 ppb, and 0.01 ppb in winter, respectively, and 0.15, 0.15, and 0.14 in spring, respectively. The gas-phase fraction of nitrogen decreased roughly with decreasing temperature, so that in the coldest period from January to February the median contribution was 28% but in April to May was 53%. There were also large fractionation variations that temperature alone cannot explain. HONO correlated well with NOx but a large fraction of the HONO-to-NOx ratios were larger than published ratios in a road traffic tunnel, suggesting that a large amount of HONO had other sources than vehicle exhaust. Aerosol acidity was estimated by calculating ion equivalent ratios. The sources of acidic aerosols were studied with trajectory statistics that showed that continental aerosol is mainly neutralized and marine aerosol acidic.

Final-revised paper