Articles | Volume 15, issue 24
Research article
17 Dec 2015
Research article |  | 17 Dec 2015

Characterization of PM10 sources in the central Mediterranean

G. Calzolai, S. Nava, F. Lucarelli, M. Chiari, M. Giannoni, S. Becagli, R. Traversi, M. Marconi, D. Frosini, M. Severi, R. Udisti, A. di Sarra, G. Pace, D. Meloni, C. Bommarito, F. Monteleone, F. Anello, and D. M. Sferlazzo

Abstract. The Mediterranean Basin atmosphere is influenced by both strong natural and anthropogenic aerosol emissions and is also subject to important climatic forcings. Several programs have addressed the study of the Mediterranean basin; nevertheless important pieces of information are still missing. In this framework, PM10 samples were collected on a daily basis on the island of Lampedusa (35.5° N, 12.6° E; 45 m a.s.l.), which is far from continental pollution sources (the nearest coast, in Tunisia, is more than 100 km away). After mass gravimetric measurements, different portions of the samples were analyzed to determine the ionic content by ion chromatography (IC), the soluble metals by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), and the total (soluble + insoluble) elemental composition by particle-induced x-ray emission (PIXE). Data from 2007 and 2008 are used in this study.

The Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) model was applied to the 2-year long data set of PM10 mass concentration and chemical composition to assess the aerosol sources affecting the central Mediterranean basin. Seven sources were resolved: sea salt, mineral dust, biogenic emissions, primary particulate ship emissions, secondary sulfate, secondary nitrate, and combustion emissions. Source contributions to the total PM10 mass were estimated to be about 40 % for sea salt, around 25 % for mineral dust, 10 % each for secondary nitrate and secondary sulfate, and 5 % each for primary particulate ship emissions, biogenic emissions, and combustion emissions. Large variations in absolute and relative contributions are found and appear to depend on the season and on transport episodes. In addition, the secondary sulfate due to ship emissions was estimated and found to contribute by about one-third to the total sulfate mass. Results for the sea-salt and mineral dust sources were compared with estimates of the same contributions obtained from independent approaches, leading to an estimate of the water content bound to the sea salt in the marine source.

Final-revised paper