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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
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Research article 16 May 2018

Research article | 16 May 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).

Sources and processes that control the submicron organic aerosol in an urban Mediterranean environment (Athens) using high temporal resolution chemical composition measurements

Iasonas Stavroulas1,2, Aikaterini Bougiatioti1,3, Despina Paraskevopoulou3, Georgios Grivas3, Eleni Liakakou3, Evangelos Gerasopoulos3, and Nikolaos Mihalopoulos1,3 Iasonas Stavroulas et al.
  • 1Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, 71003 Crete, Greece
  • 2Energy Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia 2121, Cyprus
  • 3Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development , National Observatory of Athens, Lofos Koufou, P. Penteli, 15236, Athens, Greece

Abstract. Submicron aerosol chemical composition has been studied during a year-long period (26/07/2016–31/07/2017) and two winter-time intensive campaigns (18/12/2013–21/02/2014 and 23/12/2015–17/02/2016), at a central site in Athens, Greece, using an Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM). Concurrent measurements include a Particle-Into-Liquid Sampler (PILS-IC), a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS), an AE-33 Aethalometer and Ion Chromatography analysis on 24 or 12 hour filter samples. Quality of the ACSM data was assured by comparison versus the above mentioned measurements. The aim of the study was to characterize the seasonal variability of the main fine aerosol constituents and decipher the sources of organic aerosol (OA). Organics were found to contribute almost half of the submicron mass, with concentrations during wintertime reaching up to 200μgm−3, on occasions. During this season, the primary sources contribute about 34% of the organic fraction, comprising of biomass burning (10%), fossil fuel combustion (16%) and cooking (8%), while the remaining 66% is attributed to secondary aerosol. The semi-volatile component of the oxidized organic aerosol (SV-OOA; 31%) was found to be clearly linked to combustion sources and in particular biomass burning, and even a part of the very oxidized, low-volatility component (LV-OOA; 35%) could also be attributed to the oxidation of emissions from these primary combustion sources. These results highlight the rising importance of biomass burning in urban environments during wintertime, as revealed through this characteristic example of Athens, Greece, where the economic recessions led to an abrupt shift to biomass burning for heating purposes in winter. During summer, when concentrations of fine aerosols are considerably lower, more than 80% of the organic fraction is attributed to secondary aerosol (SV-OOA 30% and LV-OOA 53%). In contrast to winter, SV-OOA appears to result from a well-mixed type of aerosol, linked to fast photochemical processes and the oxidation of primary traffic and biogenic emissions. Finally, LV-OOA presents a more regional character in summer, owing to the oxidation, within a few days, of organic aerosol.

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Iasonas Stavroulas et al.
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Short summary
During the last years many cities in Greece suffer from significant air quality deterioration events during wintertime. Urged by such observations, we wanted to study the variability and main sources of submicron particulate matter in Athens, Greece, as a large part of the population is exposed to high levels, sometimes exceeding legislative limit values. It is found that such events are mostly associated with combustion sources used for domestic heating during winter.
During the last years many cities in Greece suffer from significant air quality deterioration...