Variability of air ion concentrations in urban Paris
- 1University of Helsinki, Department of Physics, P.O. Box 48, 00560 Helsinki, Finland
- 2Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
- 3Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstraße 15 04318 Leipzig, Germany
- 4Helsinki Institute of Physics, P.O. Box 64, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. Air ion concentrations influence new particle formation and consequently the global aerosol as potential cloud condensation nuclei. We aimed to evaluate air ion concentrations and characteristics of new particle formation events (NPF) in the megacity of Paris, France, within the MEGAPOLI (Megacities: Emissions, urban, regional and Global Atmospheric Pollution and climate effects, and Integrated tools for assessment and mitigation) project. We measured air ion number size distributions (0.8–42 nm) with an air ion spectrometer and fine particle number concentrations (> 6 nm) with a twin differential mobility particle sizer in an urban site of Paris between 26 June 2009 and 4 October 2010. Air ions were size classified as small (0.8–2 nm), intermediate (2–7 nm), and large (7–20 nm). The median concentrations of small and large ions were 670 and 680 cm−3, respectively, (sum of positive and negative polarities), whereas the median concentration of intermediate ions was only 20 cm−3, as these ions were mostly present during new particle formation bursts, i.e. when gas-to-particle conversion produced fresh aerosol particles from gas phase precursors. During peaks in traffic-related particle number, the concentrations of small and intermediate ions decreased, whereas the concentrations of large ions increased. Seasonal variations affected the ion population differently, with respect to their size and polarity. NPF was observed in 13 % of the days, being most frequent in spring and late summer (April, May, July, and August). The results also suggest that NPF was favoured on the weekends in comparison to workdays, likely due to the lower levels of condensation sinks in the mornings of weekends (CS weekdays 09:00: 18 × 10−3 s−1; CS weekend 09:00: 8 × 10−3 s−1). The median growth rates (GR) of ions during the NPF events varied between 3 and 7 nm h−1, increasing with the ion size and being higher on workdays than on weekends for intermediate and large ions. The median GR of small ions on the other hand were rather similar on workdays and weekends. In general, NPF bursts changed the diurnal cycle of particle number as well as intermediate and large ions by causing an extra peak between 09:00 and 14:00. On average, during the NPF bursts the concentrations of intermediate ions were 8.5–10 times higher than on NPF non-event days, depending on the polarity, and the concentrations of large ions and particles were 1.5–1.8 and 1.2 times higher, respectively. Because the median concentrations of intermediate ions were considerably higher on NPF event days in comparison to NPF non-event days, the results indicate that intermediate ion concentrations could be used as an indication for NPF in Paris. The results suggest that NPF was a source of ions and aerosol particles in Paris and therefore contributed to both air quality degradation and climatic effects, especially in the spring and summer.