Articles | Volume 14, issue 18
Research article
16 Sep 2014
Research article |  | 16 Sep 2014

Hygroscopic properties and mixing state of aerosol measured at the high-altitude site Puy de Dôme (1465 m a.s.l.), France

H. Holmgren, K. Sellegri, M. Hervo, C. Rose, E. Freney, P. Villani, and P. Laj

Abstract. A Hygroscopicity Tandem Differential Mobility Analyser (HTDMA) was used to evaluate the hygroscopic properties of aerosol particles measured at the Puy de Dôme research station in central France, periodically from September 2008 to January 2010, and almost continuously from October 2010 to December 2012. This high-altitude site is ideally situated to allow for both the upper part of the planetary boundary layer and the lower free troposphere to be sampled. The aim of the study is to investigate both the influence of year-to-year, seasonal and diurnal cycles, as well as the influence of air mass type on particle hygroscopicity and mixing state.

Results show that particle hygroscopicity increases with particle size and depends both on air mass type and on season. Average growth factor values, GFs, are lowest in winter (1.21 ± 0.13, 1.23 ± 0.18 and 1.38 ± 0.25 for 25, 50 and 165 nm particles, respectively) and highest in autumn (1.27 ± 0.11, 1.32 ± 0.12 and 1.49 ± 0.15 for 25, 50 and 165 nm particles, respectively). Particles are generally more hygroscopic at night than during the day. The seasonal and diurnal variations are likely to be strongly influenced by boundary layer dynamics. Furthermore, particles originating from oceanic and continental regions tend to be more hygroscopic than those measured in African and local air masses. The high hygroscopicity of oceanic aerosol can be explained by large proportions of inorganic aerosol and sea salts.

Aerosols measured at the Puy de Dôme display a high degree of external mixing, and hygroscopic growth spectra can be divided into three different hygroscopic modes: a less-hygroscopic mode (GF < 1.3), a hygroscopic mode (GF~1.3–1.7) and a more-hygroscopic mode (GF > 1.7). The majority of particles measured can be classified as being in either the less-hygroscopic mode or the hygroscopic mode, and only few of them have more-hygroscopic properties. The degree of external mixing, evaluated as the fraction of time when the aerosol is found with two or more aerosol populations with different hygroscopic properties, increases with particle size (average yearly values are 20, 28 and 45 {%} for 25, 50, and 165 nm particles, respectively). The degree of external mixing is more sensitive to season than to air mass type, and it is higher in the cold seasons than in the warm seasons.

With more than two years of nearly continuous measurements, this study gathers the results from one of the longest data sets of hygroscopic growth factor measurements to date, allowing a statistically relevant hygroscopic growth parameterization to be determined as a function of both air mass type and season.

Final-revised paper