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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 13 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 13 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Effects of continental emissions on Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) activity in northern South China Sea during summertime 2018

Mingfu Cai1,2,4, Baoling Liang1, Qibin Sun1, Shengzhen Zhou1,5, Bin Yuan4, Min Shao4, Haobo Tan2, and JUN ZHAO1,3,5 Mingfu Cai et al.
  • 1School of Atmospheric Sciences, Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster Studies, and Institute of Earth Climate and Environment System, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China
  • 2Institute of Tropical and Marine Meteorology/Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Regional Numerical Weather Prediction, CMA, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510640, China
  • 3Southern Laboratory of Ocean Science and Engineering (Guangdong, Zhuhai), Zhuhai, Guangdong, 519082, China
  • 4Institute for Environmental and Climate Research, Jinan University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 511443, China
  • 5Guangdong Provincial Observation and Research Station for Climate Environment and Air Quality Change in the Pearl River Estuary, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China

Abstract. Aerosol particles in marine atmosphere have been shown to significantly affect cloud formation, atmospheric optical properties, and climate change. However, high temporal and spatial resolved atmospheric measurements over sea are currently sparse, limiting our understanding of aerosol properties in marine atmosphere. In this study, a ship-based cruise campaign was conducted over northern South China Sea (SCS) region (19°37′ N to 22°43′ N, 113°44′ E to 118°12′ E) during summertime 2018. Chemical compositions of the non-refractory PM1 (NR-PM1), particle number size distribution (PNSD) and size-resolved cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity (at supersaturation ss = 0.18 %, 0.34 %, and 0.59 %) were measured by a time-of-flight aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ToF-ACSM), and the combination of a cloud condensation nuclei counter (CCNc) and a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS), respectively. Overall, aerosol particles exhibited a unimodal distribution (centering at 60∼80 nm) and dominated by sulfate (~46 %) in the NR-PM1, similar to the characteristic of previously-reported background marine aerosols. Two polluted episodes were respectively observed at the beginning (P1, 6th–8th August) and at the end (P2, 25th–26th August) of the campaign and both were characterized by high particle number concentrations (NCN) which were shown to originate from local emissions or pollutants from long range transport. Two relatively clean periods (C1, 9th–10th and C2, 19th–21st August) prior to and after tropical storm Bebinca (11th–15th August) were also classified due to substantial removal of pollutants by strong winds and rainfalls accompanying with the storm. A value of about 0.4 for aerosol hygroscopicity parameter κ measured in this study falls in a range of values (i.e., 0.2–1.0) reported previously for urban atmosphere and for remote marine atmosphere.

The concentrations of trace gases (i.e., O3, CO, NOX) and particles (NCN and NCCN at ss = 0.34 %) were elevated at the end of the campaign and decreased with the offshore distance, suggesting important impacts of anthropogenic emissions from the inland Pearl River Delta (PRD) region on the northern SCS. A good correlation between NOX concentration and NCN implies similar sources (e.g., heavy ship, traffic, and biomass burning) for NOx and particles. The results showed that the NCCN/NCN,tot and the κ values obtained from the CCNc measurement (ss = 0.34 %) had no clear correlation either with the offshore distance or with the concentrations of the particles. Back trajectory analysis showed that the air pollutants originated from local emissions and from inland China continent via long range transport during P1 and P2, respectively. In addition, the air was affected by air masses from southwest and from Indo-China Peninsula during the clean C1 and C2 periods respectively. Chemical composition measurements showed an increase of organic mass fraction and no obviously different κ values were obtained from CCN measurements during C2 and P2, implying that the air masses carried pollutants from local sources during long range transport from Indo-China Peninsula and from the inland China continent respectively during the above two periods. Our study highlights dynamical variations of particle properties and the impact of long range transport from the China continent and Indo-China Peninsula on the northern SCS region during summertime.

Mingfu Cai et al.

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Mingfu Cai et al.


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Latest update: 02 Jun 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity in marine atmosphere affects cloud formation and solar radiation balance over ocean. We employed advanced instruments to measure aerosol hygroscopicity and chemical composition in northern South China Sea. Our results showed that marine aerosols can be affected by local emissions or pollutants from long range transport. Our study highlights dynamical variations of particle properties and the impact of long range transport on this region during summertime.
Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity in marine atmosphere affects cloud formation and solar...