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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
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Research article 27 Mar 2018

Research article | 27 Mar 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Vertical and horizontal distribution of regional new particle formation events in Madrid

Cristina Carnerero1,2, Noemí Pérez1, Cristina Reche1, Marina Ealo1, Gloria Titos1, Hong-Ku Lee3, Hee-Ram Eun3, Yong-Hee Park3, Lubna Dada4, Pauli Paasonen4, Veli-Matti Kerminen4, Enrique Mantilla5, Miguel Escudero6, Francisco J. Gómez-Moreno7, Elisabeth Alonso-Blanco7, Esther Coz7, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez8, Brice Temime-Roussel9, Nicolas Marchand9, David C. S. Beddows10, Roy M. Harrison10,11, Tuukka Petäjä4, Markku Kulmala4, Kang-Ho Ahn3, Andrés Alastuey1, and Xavier Querol1 Cristina Carnerero et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA - CSIC), Barcelona, 08034, Spain
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universit at Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, 08034, Spain
  • 3Department of Mechanical Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, 00560, Finland
  • 5Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo, CEAM, Paterna, 46980, Spain
  • 6Centro Universitario de la Defensa de Zaragoza, Academia General Militar, Zaragoza, 50090, Spain
  • 7Department of Environment, Joint Research Unit Atmospheric Pollution CIEMAT, Madrid, 28040, Spain
  • 8Department of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate, Institute of Physical Chemistry Rocasolano (IQFR - CSIC), Madrid, 28006, Spain
  • 9Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, LCE, Marseille, 13003, France
  • 10National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom
  • 11Department of Environmental Sciences, Centre for Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, 20 Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia

Abstract. The vertical profile of new particle formation (NPF) events was studied by comparing the aerosol size number distributions measured aloft and at surface level in a suburban environment in Madrid, Spain using airborne instruments. The horizontal distribution and regional impact of the NPF events was investigated with data from three urban and suburban stations in the Madrid metropolitan area. Intensive regional NPF episodes followed by particle growth were simultaneously recorded at three stations in and around Madrid, in a field campaign in July 2016. On some days a marked decline in particle size (shrinkage) was observed in the afternoon, associated with a change in air masses. Additionally, a few nocturnal nucleation mode bursts were observed in the urban stations, which could be related to aircraft emissions transported from the airport. Considering all simultaneous diurnal NPF events registered, growth rates were significantly lower at the urban stations, ranging 2.0–3.9nmh−1, compared to the suburban station (2.9–10.0nmh−1). Total concentration of 9.1–25nm particles reached 2.8 x 104cm−3 at the urban station and 1.7 x 104cm−3 at the suburban station, the mean daily values being 3.7 x 104cm−3 (2.2 x 104cm−3 at the suburban station) during event days. The formation rates of 9–25nm particles peaked around noon and recorded a median value of 2.0cm−3s−1 and 1.1cm−3s−1 at the urban and suburban stations, respectively. The condensation and coagulation sinks presented minimum values shortly before sunrise, increasing after dawn reaching the maximum value at 14:00UTC, with average daily mean values of 3.4 x 10−3s−1 (2.5 x 10−3s−1 at the suburban station) and 2.4 x 10−5s−1, respectively, during event days. The vertical soundings demonstrated that ultrafine particles (UFP) are transported from surface levels to higher levels, thus newly-formed particles ascend from surface to the top of the mixing layer. The morning soundings revealed the presence of a residual layer in the upper levels in which aged particles (nucleated and grown on previous days) prevail. The particles in this layer also grow in size, with growth rates significantly smaller than those inside the mixed layer. Under conditions with strong enough convection, the soundings revealed homogeneous number size distributions and growth rates at all altitudes, which follow the same evolution in the other stations considered in this study. This indicates that NPF occurs quasi-homogenously in an area spanning at least 17km horizontally. The NPF events extend over the full vertical extension of the mixed layer reaching as high as 3000m. This can have consequences in the radiative balance of the atmosphere and affect the climate. Results also evidenced that total particle concentration in and around Madrid in summer is dominated by NPF during summer, thus it may obscure the impact of vehicle exhaust emissions on levels of UFP.

Cristina Carnerero et al.
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Cristina Carnerero et al.
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Short summary
The vertical distribution of new particle formation events was studied using tethered balloons carrying miniaturized instrumentation. Results show that new particle formation and growth occurs only in the lower layer of the atmosphere, where aerosols are mixed due to convection, especially when the atmosphere is clean. A comparison of urban and suburban surface stations was also made, showing that such events have a significant impact on harmful ultrafine particles concentrations in a wide area.
The vertical distribution of new particle formation events was studied using tethered balloons...