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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 3 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 1835-1861, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-1835-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 08 Feb 2018

Research article | 08 Feb 2018

Atmospheric new particle formation at the research station Melpitz, Germany: connection with gaseous precursors and meteorological parameters

Johannes Größ1, Amar Hamed1,2,†, André Sonntag1, Gerald Spindler1, Hanna Elina Manninen3,4, Tuomo Nieminen3,2, Markku Kulmala3, Urmas Hõrrak5, Christian Plass-Dülmer6, Alfred Wiedensohler1, and Wolfram Birmili1,7 Johannes Größ et al.
  • 1Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstrasse 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
  • 3Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Experimental Physics Department, CERN, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
  • 5Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia
  • 6German Meteorological Service DWD, Albin-Schwaiger-Weg 10, 82383 Hohenpeissenberg, Germany
  • 7Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), Corrensplatz 1, 14195 Berlin, Germany
  • deceased

Abstract. This paper revisits the atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) process in the polluted Central European troposphere, focusing on the connection with gas-phase precursors and meteorological parameters. Observations were made at the research station Melpitz (former East Germany) between 2008 and 2011 involving a neutral cluster and air ion spectrometer (NAIS). Particle formation events were classified by a new automated method based on the convolution integral of particle number concentration in the diameter interval 2–20nm. To study the relevance of gaseous sulfuric acid as a precursor for nucleation, a proxy was derived on the basis of direct measurements during a 1-month campaign in May 2008. As a major result, the number concentration of freshly produced particles correlated significantly with the concentration of sulfur dioxide as the main precursor of sulfuric acid. The condensation sink, a factor potentially inhibiting NPF events, played a subordinate role only. The same held for experimentally determined ammonia concentrations. The analysis of meteorological parameters confirmed the absolute need for solar radiation to induce NPF events and demonstrated the presence of significant turbulence during those events. Due to its tight correlation with solar radiation, however, an independent effect of turbulence for NPF could not be established. Based on the diurnal evolution of aerosol, gas-phase, and meteorological parameters near the ground, we further conclude that the particle formation process is likely to start in elevated parts of the boundary layer rather than near ground level.

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This paper revisits the atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) process in the polluted troposphere. Novel aspects include a new NPF classification, which aims at more objectivity, and a long-term analysis of neutral cluster and air ion spectrometer data. Intense NPF events were associated with enhanced sulfur dioxide concentrations and solar radiation, while no significant relationships were observed with the condensation sink, surface-measured turbulence parameters, or ammonia.
This paper revisits the atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) process in the polluted...
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