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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Composition and origin of PM2.5 aerosol particles in the upper Rhine valley in summer

Xiaoli Shen1,2, Heike Vogel1, Bernhard Vogel1, Wei Huang1,2, Claudia Mohr3, Ramakrishna Ramisetty1,a, Thomas Leisner1,4, André S. H. Prévôt5, and Harald Saathoff1 Xiaoli Shen et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Working Group for Environmental Mineralogy and Environmental System Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Kaiserstr.12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 3Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, 11418, Sweden
  • 4Institute of Environmental Physics, University Heidelberg, In Neuenheimer Feld 229, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
  • 5Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
  • anow at: TSI Instruments India Private Limited, Bangalore, 560102, India

Abstract. We conducted a six-week measurement campaign in summer 2016 at a rural site about 11 km north of the city of Karlsruhe in southwest Germany in order to study the chemical composition and origin of aerosols in the upper Rhine valley. In particular, we deployed a single particle mass spectrometer (LAAPTOF) and an aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) to provide complementary chemical information of the aerosol particles smaller than 2.5 µm. For the entire measurement period, the total aerosol particle mass was dominated by sodium salts contributing on average (36 ± 27) % to the total single particles. The total particulate organic compounds, sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium contributed on average (58 ± 12) %, (22 ± 7) %, (10 ± 1) %, and (9 ± 3) % to the total non-refractory particle mass, respectively. The regional transport model COSMO-ART was applied for source apportionment and to achieve a better understanding of the impact of complex transport pattern on the field observations. Combining field observations and model simulations, we attributed high particle numbers and SO2 concentrations observed at this rural site to industrial emissions from power plants and a refinery in Karlsruhe. In addition, two characteristic episodes with aerosol particle mass dominated by sodium salts particles compromising (70 ± 24) % of the total single particles and organic compounds comprising accounting for (77 ± 6) % of total non-refractory species, respectively, were investigated in detail. For the first episode, we identified relatively fresh and aged sea salt particles originating from the Atlantic Ocean more than 800 km away. These particles showed markers like m/z 129 C5H7NO2+ indicating the influence of anthropogenic emissions modifying their composition e.g., from chloride to nitrate salts during the long-range transport. For a 3-day episode including high organic mass concentrations, model simulations show that on average (74 ± 7) % of the particulate organics at this site were of biogenic origin. Detailed model analysis allowed us to find out that three subsequent peaks of high organic mass concentrations originated from different sources, including local emissions from the city and industrial area of Karlsruhe, regional transport from the city of Stuttgart (~64 km away), and potential local night-time formation and growths. Biogenic (forest) and anthropogenic (urban) emissions were mixed during transport and contributed to the formation of organic particles. In addition, topography, temperature inversion, and stagnant meteorological conditions also played a role in the build-up of higher organic particle mass concentrations. Furthermore, the model was evaluated using the field observations and corresponding sensitivity tests. The model results show good agreement with trends and concentrations observed for several trace gases (e.g., O3, NO2, and SO2) and aerosol particle compounds (e.g., ammonium and nitrate). However, the model underestimates the number of particles by an order of magnitude and underestimates the mass of organic particles by a factor of 2.3. The discrepancy was expected for particle number since the model does not include all nucleation processes. The missing organic mass indicates either an underestimated regional background, missing sources, and/or mechanisms in the model like night-time chemistry. This study demonstrates the potential of combining comprehensive field observations with dedicated transport modelling to understand the chemical composition and complex origin of aerosols.

Xiaoli Shen et al.
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Modelling Aerosols in the upper Rhine valley for August 2016 X. Shen, H. Vogel, B. Vogel, and H. Saathoff

Xiaoli Shen et al.
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Short summary
This study provides a good insight into the chemical nature and complex origin of aerosols, by combining comprehensive field observations and transport modelling. We suggest that factors that are related to topography, metrological conditions, local emissions, in-situ formation and growths, regional transport, as well as the interaction of biogenic and anthropogenic compounds need to be considered for a comprehensive understanding of aerosol processes.
This study provides a good insight into the chemical nature and complex origin of aerosols, by...