Articles | Volume 16, issue 24
Research article
16 Dec 2016
Research article |  | 16 Dec 2016

Organic aerosol source apportionment in London 2013 with ME-2: exploring the solution space with annual and seasonal analysis

Ernesto Reyes-Villegas, David C. Green, Max Priestman, Francesco Canonaco, Hugh Coe, André S. H. Prévôt, and James D. Allan

Abstract. The multilinear engine (ME-2) factorization tool is being widely used following the recent development of the Source Finder (SoFi) interface at the Paul Scherrer Institute. However, the success of this tool, when using the a value approach, largely depends on the inputs (i.e. target profiles) applied as well as the experience of the user. A strategy to explore the solution space is proposed, in which the solution that best describes the organic aerosol (OA) sources is determined according to the systematic application of predefined statistical tests. This includes trilinear regression, which proves to be a useful tool for comparing different ME-2 solutions. Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM) measurements were carried out at the urban background site of North Kensington, London from March to December 2013, where for the first time the behaviour of OA sources and their possible environmental implications were studied using an ACSM. Five OA sources were identified: biomass burning OA (BBOA), hydrocarbon-like OA (HOA), cooking OA (COA), semivolatile oxygenated OA (SVOOA) and low-volatility oxygenated OA (LVOOA). ME-2 analysis of the seasonal data sets (spring, summer and autumn) showed a higher variability in the OA sources that was not detected in the combined March–December data set; this variability was explored with the triangle plots f44 : f43 f44 : f60, in which a high variation of SVOOA relative to LVOOA was observed in the f44 : f43 analysis. Hence, it was possible to conclude that, when performing source apportionment to long-term measurements, important information may be lost and this analysis should be done to short periods of time, such as seasonally. Further analysis on the atmospheric implications of these OA sources was carried out, identifying evidence of the possible contribution of heavy-duty diesel vehicles to air pollution during weekdays compared to those fuelled by petrol.

Short summary
For the first time in the UK, an Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor was used to measure aerosol concentrations in London in March–December 2013, with further organic aerosol (OA) source apportionment using the ME-2 factorization tool. Five OA sources were identified: biomass burning OA, hydrocarbon-like OA, cooking OA, semivolatile oxygenated OA and low-volatility oxygenated OA. This information can be used to take future action on the respective legislation in order to improve the air quality.
Final-revised paper