Atmos. Chem. Phys., 6, 993-1002, 2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
A comprehensive characterisation of the aerosol chemical properties (water-soluble inorganic and organic fraction) and an analysis of the relevant meteorological parameters revealed how aerosol chemistry and meteorology combine to determine a favorable "environment" for new particle formation. The results indicated that all events, typically favored during northerly air mass advection, were background aerosols (total mass concentrations range between 1.97 and 4.31 µg m-3), with an increasingly pronounced marine character as the northerly air flow arrived progressively from the west and, in contrast, with a moderate SO2-pollution influence as the air arrived from more easterly directions. Conversely, the non-event aerosol, transported from the south, exhibited the chemical features of European continental sites, with a marked increase in the concentrations of all major anthropogenic aerosol constituents. The higher non-event mass concentration (total mass concentrations range between 6.88 and 16.30 µg m-3) and, thus, a larger surface area, tended to suppress new particle formation, more efficiently depleting potential gaseous precursors for nucleation. The analysis of water-soluble organic compounds showed that clean nucleation episodes were dominated by aliphatic biogenic species, while non-events were characterised by a large abundance of anthropogenic oxygenated species. Interestingly, a significant content of α-pinene photo-oxidation products was observed in the events aerosol, accounting for, on average, 72% of their WSOC; while only moderate amounts of these species were found in the non-event aerosol. If the organic vapors condensing onto accumulation mode particles are responsible also for the growth of newly formed thermodynamically stable clusters, our finding allows one to postulate that, at the site, α-pinene photo-oxidation products (and probably also photo-oxidation products from other terpenes) are the most likely species to contribute to the growth of nanometer-sized particles.