Modeling and measurements of urban aerosol processes on the neighborhood scale in Rotterdam, Oslo and Helsinki
Abstract. This study evaluates the influence of aerosol processes on the particle number (PN) concentrations in three major European cities on the temporal scale of 1 h, i.e., on the neighborhood and city scales. We have used selected measured data of particle size distributions from previous campaigns in the cities of Helsinki, Oslo and Rotterdam. The aerosol transformation processes were evaluated using the aerosol dynamics model MAFOR, combined with a simplified treatment of roadside and urban atmospheric dispersion. We have compared the model predictions of particle number size distributions with the measured data, and conducted sensitivity analyses regarding the influence of various model input variables. We also present a simplified parameterization for aerosol processes, which is based on the more complex aerosol process computations; this simple model can easily be implemented to both Gaussian and Eulerian urban dispersion models. Aerosol processes considered in this study were (i) the coagulation of particles, (ii) the condensation and evaporation of two organic vapors, and (iii) dry deposition. The chemical transformation of gas-phase compounds was not taken into account. By choosing concentrations and particle size distributions at roadside as starting point of the computations, nucleation of gas-phase vapors from the exhaust has been regarded as post tail-pipe emission, avoiding the need to include nucleation in the process analysis. Dry deposition and coagulation of particles were identified to be the most important aerosol dynamic processes that control the evolution and removal of particles. The error of the contribution from dry deposition to PN losses due to the uncertainty of measured deposition velocities ranges from −76 to +64 %. The removal of nanoparticles by coagulation enhanced considerably when considering the fractal nature of soot aggregates and the combined effect of van der Waals and viscous interactions. The effect of condensation and evaporation of organic vapors emitted by vehicles on particle numbers and on particle size distributions was examined. Under inefficient dispersion conditions, the model predicts that condensational growth contributes to the evolution of PN from roadside to the neighborhood scale. The simplified parameterization of aerosol processes predicts the change in particle number concentrations between roadside and urban background within 10 % of that predicted by the fully size-resolved MAFOR model.