Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-1066
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-1066

  18 Nov 2020

18 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Towards understanding the mechanisms of new particle formation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Rima Baalbaki1, Michael Pikridas2, Tuija Jokinen1, Tiia Laurila1, Lubna Dada1, Spyros Bezantakos2, Lauri Ahonen1, Kimmo Neitola1,2, Anne Maisser2, Elie Bimenyimana2, Aliki Christodoulou2,3, Florin Unga2, Chrysanthos Savvides4, Katrianne Lehtipalo1,5, Juha Kangasluoma1, George Biskos2, Tuukka Petäjä1, Veli-Matti Kerminen1, Jean Sciare2, and Markku Kulmala1 Rima Baalbaki et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) / Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, Helsinki, 00014, Finland
  • 2Climate & Atmosphere Research Centre (CARE-C), The Cyprus Institute, P.O. Box 27456, Nicosia, CY-1645, Cyprus
  • 3IMT Lille Douai, Université de Lille, SAGE - Département Sciences de L'Atmosphère et Génie de L'Environnement, 59000, Lille, France
  • 4Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, Department of Labour Inspection (DLI), Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 5Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. To quantify the contribution of new particle formation (NPF) to ultrafine particle number and CCN budgets, one has to understand the mechanisms that govern NPF in different environments and its temporal extent. Here, we study NPF in Cyprus, an Eastern Mediterranean country located at the crossroads of three continents. We performed one-year continuous measurements of aerosol particles down to ~ 1 nm in diameter, for the first time in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region. These measurements were complemented with trace gas data, meteorological variables and retroplume analysis. We show that NPF is a very frequent phenomenon at this site and has higher frequencies of occurrence during spring and autumn. NPF events were both of local and regional origin, and the local events occurred frequently during the month with the lowest NPF frequency. Some NPF events exhibited multiple onsets, while others exhibited particle apparent shrinkage in size. Additionally, NPF events were observed during the night-time and during episodes of high desert dust loadings. Particle formation rates and growth rates were comparable to those in urban environments, although our site is a rural one. Meteorological variables and trace gases played a role in explaining the intra-monthly variability of NPF events, but did not explain why summer month had the least NPF frequency. Similarly, pre-existing aerosol loading did not explain the observed seasonality. The month with the least NPF frequency were associated with higher H2SO4 concentrations but lower NOx concentration, which is an indicator of anthropogenic influence. Air masses arriving from the Middle East were not observed during these month, which could suggest that precursor vapors important for nucleation and growth are transported to our site from the Middle East. Further comprehensive measurements of precursor vapors are required to prove this hypothesis.

Rima Baalbaki et al.

 
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Rima Baalbaki et al.

Rima Baalbaki et al.

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Short summary
This study investigates new particle formation (NPF) in the less represented region of the Mediterranean basin using one-year continuous measurements of aerosol particles down to ~ 1 nm in diameter. We report high frequency of NPF at our site and give examples of interesting NPF features. We further unveil the atmospheric conditions and variables considered important for the intra-monthly and inter-monthly occurrence of NPF.
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