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Volume 16, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 777–797, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-777-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 777–797, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-777-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 25 Jan 2016

Research article | 25 Jan 2016

Impact of vehicular emissions on the formation of fine particles in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Area: a numerical study with the WRF-Chem model

A Vara-Vela1, M. F. Andrade1, P. Kumar2,3, R. Y. Ynoue1, and A. G. Muñoz4,5 A Vara-Vela et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (FEPS), University of Surrey, Guilford GU2 7XH, UK
  • 3Environmental Flow (EnFlo) Research Centre, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK
  • 4International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964-1000, USA
  • 5Centro de Modelado Científico (CMC), Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela

Abstract. The objective of this work is to evaluate the impact of vehicular emissions on the formation of fine particles (PM2.5;  ≤  2.5 µm in diameter) in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Area (SPMA) in Brazil, where ethanol is used intensively as a fuel in road vehicles. The Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model, which simulates feedbacks between meteorological variables and chemical species, is used as a photochemical modelling tool to describe the physico-chemical processes leading to the evolution of number and mass size distribution of particles through gas-to-particle conversion. A vehicular emission model based on statistical information of vehicular activity is applied to simulate vehicular emissions over the studied area. The simulation has been performed for a 1-month period (7 August–6 September 2012) to cover the availability of experimental data from the NUANCE-SPS (Narrowing the Uncertainties on Aerosol and Climate Changes in Sao Paulo State) project that aims to characterize emissions of atmospheric aerosols in the SPMA. The availability of experimental measurements of atmospheric aerosols and the application of the WRF-Chem model made it possible to represent some of the most important properties of fine particles in the SPMA such as the mass size distribution and chemical composition, besides allowing us to evaluate its formation potential through the gas-to-particle conversion processes. Results show that the emission of primary gases, mostly from vehicles, led to a production of secondary particles between 20 and 30 % in relation to the total mass concentration of PM2.5 in the downtown SPMA. Each of PM2.5 and primary natural aerosol (dust and sea salt) contributed with 40–50 % of the total PM10 (i.e. those  ≤  10 µm in diameter) concentration. Over 40 % of the formation of fine particles, by mass, was due to the emission of hydrocarbons, mainly aromatics. Furthermore, an increase in the number of small particles impaired the ultraviolet radiation and induced a decrease in ozone formation. The ground-level O3 concentration decreased by about 2 % when the aerosol-radiation feedback is taken into account.

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This study provides a first step to understand the impact of vehicular emissions on the formation of secondary particles as well as the feedback between these particles and meteorology in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Area (SPMA). Among the main research findings are: - The emissions of primary gases from vehicles led to a production between 20 and 30 % due to new particles formation in relation to the total mass concentration PM2.5 in the downtown SPMA.
This study provides a first step to understand the impact of vehicular emissions on the...
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