30 Jan 2023
 | 30 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Characterization of dust-related new particle formation events based on long-term measurement in North China Plain

Xiaojing Shen, Junying Sun, Yangmei Zhang, Chunhong Zhou, Ke Gui, Wanyun Xu, Quan Liu, Junting Zhong, Can Xia, Xinyao Hu, Sinan Zhang, Jialing Wang, Shuo Liu, Jiayuan Lu, and Xiaoye Zhang

Abstract. Mineral dust is a major natural atmospheric aerosol that impacts the Earth's radiation balance. The significant scavenging process of fine particles by the strong wind during the dust provided a relatively pristine environment in which the occurrence of new particle formation (NPF) was less influenced by anthropogenic emissions. In this study, the NPF events occurring after the dust event (dust-related NPF) and other normal days (other NPF events) were classified based on the long-term particle number size distribution (PNSD) in urban Beijing in spring from 2017 to 2021. By comparing the two types of NPF events, we estimated that anthropogenic emissions could contribute approximately 50 % to the observed formation rate and 30 % to the growth rate. Anthropogenic emissions played a more important role when nucleated particles grew into the sizes above 10 nm. We also assessed a severe dust storm that originated from Mongolia and swept over northern China on March 15–16, 2021. The maximum hourly mean PM10 mass concentration reached 8000 μg m-3 during the dust storm. A downward trend of particle hygroscopicity was found during dust storms as compared with the polluted episode, resulting in an increasing trend of the critical diameter at different supersaturations (ss) where aerosols are activated as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), although NPF occurred at approximately noon time when dust faded. The critical diameter was elevated by approximately 6 %–10 % (ss = 0.2 % and 0.7 %) during the dust storm, resulting in a lower CCN activation ratio, especially at low supersaturation. Modifications of the nucleation and growth process, as well as the particle-size distribution and hygroscopicity by the dust, provide valuable information that reveals the underlying climate and air quality effects of Asian mineral dust.

Xiaojing Shen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-837', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-837', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Feb 2023

Xiaojing Shen et al.

Xiaojing Shen et al.


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Short summary
The influence of dust on new particle formation events was analyzed in this study based on long-term particle number size distribution measurement in Beijing. It revealed the anthropogenic emissions can contribute approximately 50 % to the nucleation and 30 % to the particle growth. When a severe dust storm passed, the particle chemical composition, hygroscopicity can be also modified, which influenced the ability to be activated as cloud condensation nuclei.