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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
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Research article
14 Feb 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
Origin and variability of volatile organic compounds observed at an Eastern Mediterranean background site (Cyprus)
Cécile Debevec1,2, Stéphane Sauvage1, Valérie Gros2, Jean Sciare3,2, Michael Pikridas3, Iasonas Stavroulas3, Thérèse Salameh1, Thierry Leonardis1, Vincent Gaudion1, Laurence Depelchin1, Isabelle Fronval1, Roland Sarda-Esteve2, Dominique Baisnée2, Bernard Bonsang2, Chrysanthos Savvides4, Mihalis Vrekoussis3,5,6, and Nadine Locoge1 1Département SAGE, IMT Lille Douai, Univ. Lille, Lille, 59000, France
2Equipe CAE, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), Unité Mixte CEA - CNRS - UVSQ, Gif sur Yvette, 91190, France
3Energy, Environment and Water Research Centre, the Cyprus Institute (CyI), Nicosia, 2121, Cyprus
4Department of Labour Inspection (DLI), Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, Nicosia, 2121, Cyprus
5Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen, Bremen, 28359, Germany
6Center of Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM), University of Bremen, Bremen, 28359, Germany
Abstract. More than 7,000 atmospheric measurements of over sixty C2-C16 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have been conducted at a background site in Cyprus during a 1-month intensive field campaign held in March 2015. This exhaustive dataset consisted in primary anthropogenic and biogenic VOCs, including a wide range of source-specific tracers, and oxygenated VOCs (originating from various origins) that were measured on-line by flame ionization detection/gas chromatography and proton transfer mass spectrometry. On-line submicron aerosol chemical composition was performed in parallel using an aerosol mass spectrometer. This study presents high temporal variability of VOCs and their associated sources. A preliminary analysis of their time series was performed on the basis of independent tracers (NO, CO, black carbon), meteorological data and clustering of air mass trajectories. Biogenic compounds were mainly attributed to be of local origin and showed compound-specific diurnal cycles such as daily maximum for isoprene and nighttime maximum for monoterpenes. Anthropogenic VOCs as well as oxygenated VOCs displayed higher mixing ratios under the influence of continental air masses (i.e. Western Asia) indicating that long-range transport significantly contributed to the VOC levels in the area. Source apportionment was then conducted on a database of 20 VOCs (or grouped VOCs) using a source receptor model. The positive matrix factorization and concentration field analyses were hence conducted to identify and characterize co-variation factors of VOCs that were representative of primary emissions as well as chemical transformation processes. A six-factor PMF solution was selected, namely two primary biogenic factors (relative contribution of 43 % to the total mass of VOCs) for different types of emitting vegetation; three anthropogenic factors (short-lived combustion source, evaporative sources, industrial and evaporative sources, 21 % all together), identified either of local origin but also from more distant emission zones (i.e. the south coasts of Turkey); and a last factor (36 %) associated to a regional background pollution (air masses transported both from Western and Eastern Mediterranean regions). One of the two biogenic and the regional background factors were found to be the largest contributors to the VOCs concentrations observed at our sampling site. Finally, a combined analysis of VOCs PMF factors with source apportioned organic aerosols (OA) helped to better distinguish between anthropogenic and biogenic influences on the aerosol and gas phase compositions. The highest OA concentrations were observed when the site was influenced by air masses rich in semi-volatile OA (less oxidized aerosols) originating from the Southwest of Asia, in contrast with OA factor contributions associated with the remaining source regions. A reinforcement of secondary OA formation also occurred due to intense oxidation of biogenic precursors.

Citation: Debevec, C., Sauvage, S., Gros, V., Sciare, J., Pikridas, M., Stavroulas, I., Salameh, T., Leonardis, T., Gaudion, V., Depelchin, L., Fronval, I., Sarda-Esteve, R., Baisnée, D., Bonsang, B., Savvides, C., Vrekoussis, M., and Locoge, N.: Origin and variability of volatile organic compounds observed at an Eastern Mediterranean background site (Cyprus), Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Cécile Debevec et al.
Cécile Debevec et al.
Cécile Debevec et al.


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Short summary
An intensive field campaign was conducted in March 2015 in the Eastern Mediterranean region, at a background site of Cyprus. we performed a detailed analysis of the chemical composition of air masses in gas and aerosol phase and we applied a source apportionment analysis in order to identify the various origins of VOCs. The results suggest that VOCs are mainly of biogenic and regional background origins.
An intensive field campaign was conducted in March 2015 in the Eastern Mediterranean region, at...