Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 31197-31249, 2013
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Variations in tropospheric submicron particle size distributions across the European continent 2008–2009
D. C. S. Beddows1, M. Dall'Osto2, Roy M. Harrison1,24, M. Kulmala3, A. Asmi3, A. Wiedensohler4, P. Laj5, A. M. Fjaeraa6, K. Sellegri7, W. Birmili4, N. Bukowiecki8, E. Weingartner8, U. Baltensperger8, V. Zdimal9, N. Zikova9, J.-P. Putaud10, A. Marinoni11, P. Tunved12, H.-C. Hansson12, M. Fiebig6, N. Kivekäs13,14, E. Swietlicki13, H. Lihavainen14, E. Asmi14, V. Ulevicius15, P. P. Aalto3, N. Mihalopoulos16, N. Kalivitis16, I. Kalapov17, G. Kiss18, G. de Leeuw3,14,19, B. Henzing19, C. O'Dowd20, S. G. Jennings20, H. Flentje21, F. Meinhardt22, L. Ries23, H. A. C. Denier van der Gon19, and A. J. H. Visschedijk19
1National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
2Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Pg Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
3Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, Helsinki, Finland
4Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
5Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l'Environnement Universite Joseph Fourier, Grenoble 1/CNRS, 38400 St. Martin d'Heres, France
6NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research Instituttveien 18, 2027 Kjeller, Norway
7Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique, UMR 6016, CNRS/University of Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont-Ferrand, France
8Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
9Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals of the AS CR, v.v.i., Rozvojova 135, 16502 Praha 6, Czech Republic
10European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, 21027 (VA), Italy
11CNR-ISAC, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, 40129, Bologna, Italy
12Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
13Department of Physics, Lund University, SE-22100, Lund, Sweden
14Finnish Meteorological Institute, Erik Palmenin aukio 1, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
15Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, Savanoriu 231, 02300 Vilnius, Lithuania
16Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, Greece
17Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Blvd. Tzarigradsko chaussee, 72, 1784 Sofia, Bulgaria
18MTA-PE Air Chemistry Research Group, P.O. Box 158, 8201 Veszprém, Hungary
19Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Princetonlaan 6, 3508 TA Utrecht, the Netherlands
20National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
21German Meteorological Service, Hohenpeissenberg Observatory, Albin-Schwaiger Weg 10, 82383 Hohenpeißenberg, Germany
22German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Messnetzzentrale, Paul-Ehrlich-Str. 29, 63225, Langen, Germany
23German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Platform Zugspitze of GAW Global Station Zugspitze/Hohenpeissenberg, Zugspitze 5, 28475 Zugspitze, Germany
24Department of Environmental Sciences/Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 80203, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia

Abstract. Cluster analysis of particle number size distributions from background sites across Europe is presented. This generated a total of nine clusters which could be further combined into two main groups, namely: a South to North category (four clusters) and a West to East category (five clusters). The first category was identified as most frequently being detected inside and around Northern Germany and neighbouring countries, showing clear evidence of local afternoon nucleation and growth events that could be linked to movement of air masses from South-to-North arriving ultimately at the Arctic resulting in Arctic Haze. The second group of particle size spectra proved to have narrower size distributions and collectively showed a dependence of modal diameter upon the longitude of the site (West to East) at which they were most frequently detected. These clusters indicated regional nucleation (at the coastal sites) growing to larger modes further inland. The apparent growth rate of the modal diameter was around 1–3 nm h−1.

Four specific air mass back trajectories were successively taken as case studies to examine in real time the evolution of aerosol size distributions across Europe. While aerosol growth processes can be observed as aerosol traverses Europe, the processes are often obscured by the addition of aerosol by emissions en route. This study revealed that some of the 24 stations exhibit more complex behaviour than others, especially when impacted by local sources or a variety of different air masses. Overall, the aerosol size distribution clustering analysis greatly simplifies the complex dataset and allows a description of aerosol aging processes, which reflects the longer-term average development of particle number size distributions as air masses advect across Europe.

Citation: Beddows, D. C. S., Dall'Osto, M., Harrison, Roy M., Kulmala, M., Asmi, A., Wiedensohler, A., Laj, P., Fjaeraa, A. M., Sellegri, K., Birmili, W., Bukowiecki, N., Weingartner, E., Baltensperger, U., Zdimal, V., Zikova, N., Putaud, J.-P., Marinoni, A., Tunved, P., Hansson, H.-C., Fiebig, M., Kivekäs, N., Swietlicki, E., Lihavainen, H., Asmi, E., Ulevicius, V., Aalto, P. P., Mihalopoulos, N., Kalivitis, N., Kalapov, I., Kiss, G., de Leeuw, G., Henzing, B., O'Dowd, C., Jennings, S. G., Flentje, H., Meinhardt, F., Ries, L., Denier van der Gon, H. A. C., and Visschedijk, A. J. H.: Variations in tropospheric submicron particle size distributions across the European continent 2008–2009, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 31197-31249, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-31197-2013, 2013.
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