Articles | Volume 13, issue 20
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 10271–10283, 2013
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 10271–10283, 2013

Research article 22 Oct 2013

Research article | 22 Oct 2013

Particle number concentrations over Europe in 2030: the role of emissions and new particle formation

L. Ahlm1, J. Julin1, C. Fountoukis2, S. N. Pandis2,3,4, and I. Riipinen1 L. Ahlm et al.
  • 1Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM) and the Bert Bolin Centre for Climate Research (BBCC), Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (ICEHT/FORTH), Patras, Greece
  • 3Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • 4Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

Abstract. The aerosol particle number concentration is a key parameter when estimating impacts of aerosol particles on climate and human health. We use a three-dimensional chemical transport model with detailed microphysics, PMCAMx-UF, to simulate particle number concentrations over Europe in the year 2030, by applying emission scenarios for trace gases and primary aerosols. The scenarios are based on expected changes in anthropogenic emissions of sulfur dioxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and primary aerosol particles with a diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) focusing on a photochemically active period, and the implications for other seasons are discussed.

For the baseline scenario, which represents a best estimate of the evolution of anthropogenic emissions in Europe, PMCAMx-UF predicts that the total particle number concentration (Ntot) will decrease by 30–70% between 2008 and 2030. The number concentration of particles larger than 100 nm (N100), a proxy for cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentration, is predicted to decrease by 40–70% during the same period. The predicted decrease in Ntot is mainly a result of reduced new particle formation due to the expected reduction in SO2 emissions, whereas the predicted decrease in N100 is a result of both decreasing condensational growth and reduced primary aerosol emissions. For larger emission reductions, PMCAMx-UF predicts reductions of 60–80% in both Ntot and N100 over Europe.

Sensitivity tests reveal that a reduction in SO2 emissions is far more efficient than any other emission reduction investigated, in reducing Ntot. For N100, emission reductions of both SO2 and PM2.5 contribute significantly to the reduced concentration, even though SO2 plays the dominant role once more. The impact of SO2 for both new particle formation and growth over Europe may be expected to be somewhat higher during the simulated period with high photochemical activity than during times of the year with less incoming solar radiation.

The predicted reductions in both Ntot and N100 between 2008 and 2030 in this study will likely reduce both the aerosol direct and indirect effects, and limit the damaging effects of aerosol particles on human health in Europe.

Final-revised paper