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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  05 Aug 2020

05 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

The Effect of Meteorological Conditions and Atmospheric Composition in the Occurrence and Development of New Particle Formation (NPF) Events in Europe

Dimitrios Bousiotis1, James Brean1, Francis Pope1, Manuel Dall'Osto2, Xavier Querol3, Andres Alastuey3, Noemi Perez3, Tuukka Petäjä4, Andreas Massling5, Jacob Klenø Nøjgaard5, Claus Nørdstrom5, Giorgos Kouvarakis6, Stergios Vratolis7, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis7, Jarkko V. Niemi8, Harri Portin8, and Roy M. Harrison1,a Dimitrios Bousiotis et al.
  • 1Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom
  • 2Institute of Marine Sciences, Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 37–49, E-08003 Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA–CSIC), 08034, Barcelona, Spain
  • 4Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR)/Physics, Faculty of Science University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Department for Environmental Science, Aarhus University, DK-400, Roskilde, Denmark
  • 6Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory (ECPL), Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, 70013, Heraklion, Greece
  • 7Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory, Institute of Nuclear and Radiological Science & Technology, Energy & Safety, NCSR Demokritos, Athens, Greece
  • 8Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), FI-00066 HSY, Helsinki, Finland
  • aalso at: Department of Environmental Sciences/Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80203, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia

Abstract. Although new particle formation (NPF) events have been studied extensively for some decades, the mechanisms that drive their occurrence and development are yet to be fully elucidated. Laboratory studies have done much to elucidate the molecular processes involved in nucleation, but this knowledge has yet to be linked to NPF events in the atmosphere, except at very clean air sites. There is great difficulty in successful application of the results from laboratory studies to real atmospheric conditions, due to the diversity of atmospheric conditions and observations found, as NPF events occur almost everywhere in the world without following a clearly defined trend of frequency, seasonality, atmospheric conditions or event development. The present study seeks common features in nucleation events by applying a binned linear regression over an extensive dataset from 16 sites of various types (rural and urban backgrounds as well as roadsides) in Europe. A clear positive relation is found between the solar radiation intensity, temperature and atmospheric pressure with the frequency of NPF events, while relative humidity presents a negative relation with NPF event frequency. Wind speed presents a less consistent relationship which appears to be heavily affected by local conditions. While some meteorological variables appear to have a crucial effect on the occurrence and characteristics of NPF events, especially at rural sites, it appears that their role becomes less marked when at higher values.

The analysis of chemical composition data presents interesting results. Concentrations of almost all chemical compounds studied (apart from O3) and the Condensation Sink (CS) have a negative relation with NPF event probability, though areas with higher average concentrations of SO2 had higher NPF event probability. Particulate Organic Carbon (OC), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and particulate phase sulphate consistently had a positive relation with the growth rate of the newly formed particles. As with some meteorological variables, it appears that at increased concentrations of pollutants or the CS, their influence upon NPF probability is reduced.

Dimitrios Bousiotis et al.

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Dimitrios Bousiotis et al.

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The analysis of the effect of several variables on NPF events in Europe Roy M. Harrison and James Brean

Dimitrios Bousiotis et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
New Particle Formation events from 16 sites over Europe have been studied and the influence of meteorological and atmospheric composition variables has been investigated. Some variables like solar radiation intensity or temperature have a positive effect upon the occurrence of these events, while others have a negative effect, affecting different aspects such as the rate at which particles are formed or grow. This effect varies depending on the site type and magnitude of these variables.
New Particle Formation events from 16 sites over Europe have been studied and the influence of...