Measurements of sub-3 nm particles using a particle size magnifier in different environments: from clean mountain top to polluted megacities
Abstract. The measurement of sub-3 nm aerosol particles is technically challenging. Therefore, there is a lack of knowledge about the concentrations of atmospheric sub-3 nm particles and their variation in different environments. In this study, the concentrations of ∼ 1–3 nm particles measured with a particle size magnifier (PSM) were investigated at nine sites around the world. Sub-3 nm particle concentrations were highest at the sites with strong anthropogenic influence. In boreal forest, measured particle concentrations were clearly higher in summer than in winter, suggesting the importance of biogenic precursor vapors in this environment. At all sites, sub-3 nm particle concentrations had daytime maxima, which are likely linked to the photochemical production of precursor vapors and the emissions of precursor vapors or particles from different sources. When comparing ion concentrations to the total sub-3 nm particle concentrations, electrically neutral particles were observed to dominate in polluted environments and in boreal forest during spring and summer. Generally, the concentrations of sub-3 nm particles seem to be determined by the availability of precursor vapors rather than the level of the sink caused by preexisting aerosol particles. The results also indicate that the formation of the smallest particles and their subsequent growth to larger sizes are two separate processes, and therefore studying the concentration of sub-3 nm particles separately in different size ranges is essential.