Abstract. This work presents for the first time a classification of shrinkage events based on the aerosol processes that precede them. To this end, 3.5 years of continuous measurements (from 2009 to 2012) of aerosol size distributions, obtained with a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) at an urban background site in Southern Europe, have been interpreted.
48 shrinkage events were identified and analysed, all occurring during spring and summer when the atmospheric conditions are more favourable for their development. In this study the shrinkage events took place mostly towards the end of the day, and their occurrence could be associated to atmospheric dilution conditions and a reduction in photochemical activity. The shrinkage rate (SR) varied between −1.0 and −11.1 nm h−1 (average value of −4.7 ± 2.6 nm h−1). Changes in particle concentrations corresponding to the nucleation and Aitken modes were detected, whereby an increase in the number of particles in the nucleation mode often coincided with a reduction in the Aitken mode. The accumulation mode did not undergo significant changes during these processes. In addition, in some cases, a dilution of the total particle number concentration in the ambient air was observed.
Following the proposed methodology, three groups of events have been identified: Group I (NPF + shrinkage), Group II (aerosol growth process + shrinkage) and Group III (pure shrinkage events). The largest number of shrinkage events has been observed in the absence of prior processes, i.e. pure shrinkage events, followed by Group I events and finally Group II events.
Although this analysis has confirmed that the triggering of shrinkage events is clearly linked to the atmospheric situation and the characteristics of the measurement area, this classification may contribute to a better understanding of the processes involved and the features that characterize shrinkage events.
How to cite. Alonso-Blanco, E., Gómez-Moreno, F. J., Núñez, L., Pujadas, M., Cusack, M., and Artíñano, B.: Towards a first classification of aerosol shrinkage events, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 15, 25231–25267, https://doi.org/10.5194/acpd-15-25231-2015, 2015.