Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 20531-20560, 2013
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Characteristics of regional new particle formation in urban and regional background environments in the North China Plain
Z. B. Wang1,3, M. Hu1, J. Y. Sun2, Z. J. Wu1,3, D. L. Yue1, X. J. Shen2, Y. M. Zhang2, X. Y. Pei1,4, and A. Wiedensohler3
1State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
2Key Laboratory for Atmospheric Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
3Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
4Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Atmospheric Science, University of Gothenburg, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract. Long-term measurements of particle number size distributions were carried out in the North China Plain both at an urban background site (Peking University, PKU) and a regional Global Atmospheric Watch station (Shangdianzi, SDZ) from March to November in 2008. In total, 52 new particle formation events were observed simultaneously at both sites, indicating that this is a regional phenomenon in the North China Plain. On average, the mean condensation sink value before the nucleation event start was 0.025 s−1 in the urban environment, which was 1.6 times higher than that at regional site. However, higher particle formation and growth rates were observed at PKU (10.8 cm−3 s−1 an 5.2 nm h−1) compared with those at SDZ (4.9 cm−3 s−1 and 4.0 nm h−1). These results implied that more precursors are needed to participate in the nucleation process to observe the occurrence of new particle formation event in a more polluted urban environment. Different from the observations in clean environments, the background condition of the observed nucleation events in the North China Plain could be characterized as the co-existing of the higher source and sink. The condensational growth of newly formed particles results in an increase in the particle mass concentration, particle light scattering coefficient, and CCN number concentration, with consequences on climate effects and air quality. In 34 investigated new particle formation cases at both sites, a significant particle nucleation and subsequent growth over a sufficient long time period were observed and investigated in terms of the particle light scattering and the number concentration of "potential" CCN. The results revealed that the new particle formation increases the particle light scattering coefficient and CCN number concentration in the North China Plain by factors in the range of 6.3–7.6 and 5.6–8.7, respectively. Moreover, the potential contribution of anthropogenic emissions to the CCN number concentration is more than 50%, which should be drawn more attentions in the regional and global climate model, especially in the polluted urban areas.

Citation: Wang, Z. B., Hu, M., Sun, J. Y., Wu, Z. J., Yue, D. L., Shen, X. J., Zhang, Y. M., Pei, X. Y., and Wiedensohler, A.: Characteristics of regional new particle formation in urban and regional background environments in the North China Plain, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 20531-20560, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-20531-2013, 2013.
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