Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 9171-9220, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review Status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Particle number size distributions in urban air before and after volatilisation
W. Birmili1, K. Heinke1,2, M. Pitz3,4, J. Matschullat2, A. Wiedensohler1, J. Cyrys3,4, H.-E. Wichmann3, and A. Peters3
1Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (IfT), Permoserstrasse 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2Interdisciplinary Environmental Research Centre (IÖZ), TU Bergakademie Freiberg, 09599 Freiberg, Germany
3Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU), German Research Center for Environment Health, Institute of Epidemiology, 85758 Neuherberg/Munich, Germany
4University of Augsburg, Center for Science and Environment, 86159 Augsburg, Germany

Abstract. Aerosol particle number size distributions (size range 0.003–10 μm) with and without using a thermodenuder are measured continuously in the city of Augsburg, Germany. Here, the data between 2004 and 2006 are examined with respect to the governing anthropogenic sources and meteorological factors. The two-year average particle number concentration in Augsburg was found to be 12 200 cm−3, similar to previous observations in other European cities. A seasonal analysis yielded twice the total particle number concentrations in winter as compared to summer, a consequence of more frequent inversion situations and particulate emissions in winter. The diurnal variation of the size distribution is shaped by a remarkable increase in the morning along with the peak traffic hours. After a mid-day decrease along with the onset of vertical mixing, an evening increase in concentration could frequently be observed, suggesting a re-stratification of the urban atmosphere. The mixed layer height turned out to be the most influential meteorological parameter on particle size distribution. Its influence was greater than that of the geographical origin of the synoptic-scale air masses.

By heating every second aerosol sample to 300°C in a thermodenuder, the volume fraction of non-volatile compounds in the urban aerosol was retrieved. The obtained results compared well with an independent measurement of the aerosol absorption coefficient (R2=0.9). The balance of particle number upstream and downstream of the thermodenuder suggests that all particles >12 nm contain a non-volatile core at 300°C. As an artefact of the volatility analysis, nucleation of particles smaller than 6 nm was observed in the cooling section of the thermodenuder. An average diameter ratio of particles before and after volatilisation was determined as a function of particle size. It indicated that particles >60 nm contain significantly higher fractions of non-volatile compounds, most likely soot, than particles <60 nm.

Citation: Birmili, W., Heinke, K., Pitz, M., Matschullat, J., Wiedensohler, A., Cyrys, J., Wichmann, H.-E., and Peters, A.: Particle number size distributions in urban air before and after volatilisation, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 9171-9220, doi:10.5194/acpd-9-9171-2009, 2009.
Search ACPD
Discussion Paper
    Final Revised Paper