Articles | Volume 17, issue 17
Research article
08 Sep 2017
Research article |  | 08 Sep 2017

Changes in domestic heating fuel use in Greece: effects on atmospheric chemistry and radiation

Eleni Athanasopoulou, Orestis Speyer, Dominik Brunner, Heike Vogel, Bernhard Vogel, Nikolaos Mihalopoulos, and Evangelos Gerasopoulos

Abstract. For the past 8 years, Greece has been experiencing a major financial crisis which, among other side effects, has led to a shift in the fuel used for residential heating from fossil fuel towards biofuels, primarily wood. This study simulates the fate of the residential wood burning aerosol plume (RWB smog) and the implications on atmospheric chemistry and radiation, with the support of detailed aerosol characterization from measurements during the winter of 2013–2014 in Athens. The applied model system (TNO-MACC_II emissions and COSMO-ART model) and configuration used reproduces the measured frequent nighttime aerosol spikes (hourly PM10  >  75 µg m−3) and their chemical profile (carbonaceous components and ratios). Updated temporal and chemical RWB emission profiles, derived from measurements, were used, while the level of the model performance was tested for different heating demand (HD) conditions, resulting in better agreement with measurements for Tmin < 9 °C. Half of the aerosol mass over the Athens basin is organic in the submicron range, of which 80 % corresponds to RWB (average values during the smog period). Although organic particles are important light scatterers, the direct radiative cooling of the aerosol plume during wintertime is found low (monthly average forcing of –0.4 W m−2 at the surface), followed by a minor feedback to the concentration levels of aerosol species. The low radiative cooling of a period with such intense air pollution conditions is attributed to the timing of the smog plume appearance, both directly (longwave radiation increases during nighttime) and indirectly (the mild effect of the residual plume on solar radiation during the next day, due to removal and dispersion processes).

Short summary
This work focuses on the impact of residential wood burning on aerosol levels, composition and radiation under the ongoing economic crisis in Greece. The atmospheric model COSMO-ART performed a series of runs during the winter of 2013–2014. Emission inputs were revised according to the detailed aerosol characterization by local measurements. Aerosol levels were found to be elevated and mostly composed of organics, yet the timing of the plume justifies the minor radiative cooling and feedbacks.
Final-revised paper