Articles | Volume 14, issue 23
Research article
08 Dec 2014
Research article |  | 08 Dec 2014

Megacity emission plume characteristics in summer and winter investigated by mobile aerosol and trace gas measurements: the Paris metropolitan area

S.-L. von der Weiden-Reinmüller, F. Drewnick, Q. J. Zhang, F. Freutel, M. Beekmann, and S. Borrmann

Abstract. For the investigation of megacity emission plume characteristics mobile aerosol and trace gas measurements were carried out in the greater Paris region in July 2009 and January–February 2010 within the EU FP7 MEGAPOLI project (Megacities: Emissions, urban, regional and Global Atmospheric POLlution and climate effects, and Integrated tools for assessment and mitigation). The deployed instruments measured physical and chemical properties of sub-micron aerosol particles, gas phase constituents of relevance for urban air pollution studies and meteorological parameters. The emission plume was identified based on fresh pollutant (e.g., particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, black carbon, CO2 and NOx) concentration changes in combination with wind direction data. The classification into megacity influenced and background air masses allowed a characterization of the emission plume during summer and winter environmental conditions. On average, a clear increase of fresh pollutant concentrations in plume compared to background air masses was found for both seasons. For example, an average increase of 190% (+ 8.8 ng m−3) in summer and of 130% (+ 18.1 ng m−3) in winter was found for particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in plume air masses. The aerosol particle size distribution in plume air masses was influenced by nucleation and growth due to coagulation and condensation in summer, while in winter only the latter process (i.e., particle growth) seemed to be initiated by urban pollution. The observed distribution of fresh pollutants in the emission plume – its cross sectional Gaussian-like profile and the exponential decrease of pollutant concentrations with increasing distance to the megacity – are in agreement with model results. Differences between model and measurements were found for plume center location, plume width and axial plume extent. In general, dilution was identified as the dominant process determining the axial variations within the Paris emission plume. For in-depth analysis of transformation processes occurring in the advected plume, simultaneous measurements at a suburban measurement site and a stationary site outside the metropolitan area using the mobile laboratory have proven to be most useful. Organic aerosol oxidation was observed in summer, while in winter transformation processes seemed to occur at a slower rate.

Final-revised paper