Basic characteristics of atmospheric particles, trace gases and meteorology in a relatively clean Southern African Savannah environment
1Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P. O. BOX 64, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Physics, North-West University, Private Bag X 2046, Mmabatho, South Africa
3Department of Biology, North-West University, Private Bag X 2046, Mmabatho, South Africa
4School of Chemistry, North-West University, Private Bag X 6001, Potchefstroom, South Africa
5Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. We have analyzed one year (July 2006–July 2007) of measurement data from a relatively clean background site located in dry savannah in South Africa. The annual-median trace gas concentrations were equal to 0.7 ppb for SO2, 1.4 ppb for NOx, 36 ppb for O3 and 105 ppb for CO. The corresponding PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations were 9.0, 10.5 and 18.8 μg m−3, and the annual median total particle number concentration in the size range 10–840 nm was 2340 cm−3. Gases and particles had a clear seasonal and diurnal variation, which was associated with field fires and biological activity together with local meteorology. Atmospheric new-particle formation was observed to take place in more than 90% of the analyzed days. The days with no new particle formation were cloudy or rainy days. The formation rate of 10 nm particles varied in the range of 0.1–28 cm−3 s−1 (median 1.9 cm−3 s−1) and nucleation mode particle growth rates were in the range 3–21 nm h−1 (median 8.5 nm h−1). Due to high formation and growth rates, observed new particle formation gives a significant contribute to the number of cloud condensation nuclei budget, having a potential to affect the regional climate forcing patterns.