Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 4327–4348, 2014
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 4327–4348, 2014

Research article 30 Apr 2014

Research article | 30 Apr 2014

Variations in tropospheric submicron particle size distributions across the European continent 2008–2009

D. C. S. Beddows1, M. Dall'Osto2, R. M. Harrison1,3, M. Kulmala4, A. Asmi4, A. Wiedensohler5, P. Laj6, A.M. Fjaeraa7, K. Sellegri8, W. Birmili5, N. Bukowiecki9, E. Weingartner9, U. Baltensperger9, V. Zdimal10, N. Zikova10, J.-P. Putaud11, A. Marinoni12, P. Tunved13, H.-C. Hansson13, M. Fiebig7, N. Kivekäs14,15, E. Swietlicki14, H. Lihavainen15, E. Asmi15, V. Ulevicius16, P. P. Aalto4, N. Mihalopoulos17, N. Kalivitis17, I. Kalapov18, G. Kiss19, G. de Leeuw4,15,20, B. Henzing20, C. O'Dowd21, S. G. Jennings21, H. Flentje22, F. Meinhardt23, L. Ries24, H. A. C. Denier van der Gon20, and A. J. H. Visschedijk20 D. C. S. Beddows et al.
  • 1National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
  • 2Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Pg Marítim de la Barceloneta 37–49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Department of Environmental Sciences / Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 80203, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 6Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l´ Environnement Universite Joseph Fourier, Grenoble 1/CNRS, 38400 St. Martin d'Heres, France
  • 7NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research Instituttveien 18, 2027 Kjeller, Norway
  • 8Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique, UMR~6016, CNRS/University of Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont-Ferrand, France
  • 9Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
  • 10Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals of the AS CR, v.v.i., Rozvojova 135, 16502 Prague 6, Czech Republic
  • 11European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, 21027 (VA), Italy
  • 12CNR-ISAC, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, 40129, Bologna, Italy
  • 13Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 14Department of Physics, Lund University, SE-22100, Lund, Sweden
  • 15Finnish Meteorological Institute, Erik Palmenin aukio 1, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
  • 16Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, Savanoriu 231, 02300 Vilnius, Lithuania
  • 17Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, Greece
  • 18Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Blvd. Tzarigradsko chaussee, 72, 1784 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 19MTA-PE Air Chemistry Research Group, P.O. Box 158, 8201 Veszprém, Hungary
  • 20Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Princetonlaan 6, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 21National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
  • 22German Meteorological Service, Hohenpeissenberg Observatory, Albin-Schwaiger Weg 10, 82383 Hohenpeißenberg, Germany
  • 23German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Messnetzzentrale, Paul-Ehrlich-str. 29, 63225, Langen, Germany
  • 24German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Platform Zugspitze of GAW Global Station Zugspitze/Hohenpeissenberg, Zugspitze 5, 28475 Zugspitze, Germany

Abstract. Cluster~analysis of particle number size distributions from~background sites across Europe~is presented. This generated a total of nine clusters of particle size distributions which could be further combined into two main groups, namely: a south-to-north category (four clusters) and a west-to-east category (five clusters). The first group was identified as most frequently being detected inside and around northern Germany and neighbouring countries, showing clear evidence of local afternoon nucleation and growth events that could be linked to movement of air masses from south to north arriving ultimately at the Arctic contributing to Arctic haze.~The second group of particle size spectra proved to have narrower size distributions and collectively showed a dependence of modal diameter upon the longitude of the site (west to east) at which they were most frequently detected.~These clusters indicated regional nucleation (at the coastal sites) growing to larger modes further inland. The apparent growth rate of the modal diameter was around 0.6–0.9 nm h−1.

Four specific air mass back-trajectories were successively taken as case studies to examine in real time the evolution of aerosol size distributions across Europe. ~While aerosol growth processes can be observed as aerosol traverses Europe, the processes are often obscured by the addition of aerosol by emissions en route. This study revealed that some of the 24 stations exhibit more complex behaviour than others, especially when impacted by local sources or a variety of different air masses. Overall, the aerosol size distribution clustering analysis greatly simplifies the complex data set and allows a description of aerosol aging processes, which reflects the longer-term average development of particle number size distributions as air masses advect across Europe.

Final-revised paper