Size distributions of non-volatile particle residuals (Dp<800 nm) at a rural site in Germany and relation to air mass origin
- 1Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
- 2UFZ – Center or Environmental Research, Department of Human Exposure Research and Epidemiology, Leipzig, Germany
Abstract. Atmospheric aerosol particle size distributions at a continental background site in Eastern Germany were examined for a one-year period. Particles were classified using a twin differential mobility particle sizer in a size range between 3 and 800 nm. As a novelty, every second measurement of this experiment involved the removal of volatile chemical compounds in a thermodenuder at 300°C. This concept allowed to quantify the number size distribution of non-volatile particle cores – primarily associated with elemental carbon, and to compare this to the original non-conditioned size distribution. As a byproduct of the volatility analysis, new particles originating from nucleation inside the thermodenuder can be observed, however, overwhelmingly at diameters below 6 nm. Within the measurement uncertainty, every particle down to particle sizes of 15 nm is concluded to contain a non-volatile core. The volume fraction of non-volatile particulate matter (non-conditioned diameter < 800 nm) varied between 10 and 30% and was largely consistent with the experimentally determined mass fraction of elemental carbon. The average size of the non-volatile particle cores was estimated as a function of original non-conditioned size using a summation method, which showed that larger particles (>200 nm) contained more non-volatile compounds than smaller particles (<50 nm), thus indicating a significantly different chemical composition. Two alternative air mass classification schemes based on either, synoptic chart analysis (Berliner Wetterkarte) or back trajectories showed that the volume and number fraction of non-volatile cores depended less on air mass than the total particle number concentration. In all air masses, the non-volatile size distributions showed a more and a less volatile ("soot") mode, the latter being located at about 50 nm. During unstable conditions and in maritime air masses, smaller values were observed compared to stable or continental conditions. This reflects the significant emission of non-volatile material over the continent and, depending on atmospheric stratification, increased concentrations at ground level.