Dust events in Beijing, China (2004–2006): comparison of ground-based measurements with columnar integrated observations
1State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China
2Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
3Atmospheric Environment Division, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
Abstract. Ambient particle number size distributions spanning three years were used to characterize the frequency and intensity of atmospheric dust events in the urban areas of Beijing, China in combination with AERONET sun/sky radiometer data. Dust events were classified into two types based on the differences in particle number and volume size distributions and local weather conditions. This categorization was confirmed by aerosol index images, columnar aerosol optical properties, and vertical potential temperature profiles. During the type-1 events, dust particles dominated the total particle volume concentration (<10 μm), with a relative share over 70%. Anthropogenic particles in the Aitken and accumulation mode played a subordinate role here because of high wind speeds (>4 m s−1). The type-2 events occurred in rather stagnant air masses and were characterized by a lower volume fraction of coarse mode particles (on average, 55%). Columnar optical properties showed that the superposition of dust and anthropogenic aerosols in type-2 events resulted in a much higher AOD (average: 1.51) than for the rather pure dust aerosols in type-1 events (average AOD: 0.36). A discrepancy was found between the ground-based and column integrated particle volume size distributions, especially for the coarse mode particles. This discrepancy likely originates from both the limited comparability of particle volume size distributions derived from Sun photometer and in situ number size distributions, and the inhomogeneous vertical distribution of particles during dust events.