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    A concept of an automated function control for ambient aerosol measurements using mobility particle size spectrometers
    (München : European Geopyhsical Union, 2014) Schladitz, A.; Merkel, M.; Bastian, S.; Birmili, W.; Weinhold, K.; Löschau, G.; Wiedensohler, A.
    An automated function control unit was developed to regularly check the ambient particle number concentration derived from a mobility particle size spectrometer as well as its zero-point behaviour. The function control allows unattended quality assurance experiments at remote air quality monitoring or research stations under field conditions. The automated function control also has the advantage of being able to get a faster system stability response than the recommended on-site comparisons with reference instruments. The method is based on a comparison of the total particle number concentration measured by a mobility particle size spectrometer and a condensation particle counter while removing diffusive particles smaller than 20 nm in diameter. In practice, the small particles are removed by a set of diffusion screens, as traditionally used in a diffusion battery. Another feature of the automated function control is to check the zero-point behaviour of the ambient aerosol passing through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. The performance of the function control is illustrated with the aid of a 1-year data set recorded at Annaberg-Buchholz, a station in the Saxon air quality monitoring network. During the period of concern, the total particle number concentration derived from the mobility particle size spectrometer slightly overestimated the particle number concentration recorded by the condensation particle counter by 2 % (grand average). Based on our first year of experience with the function control, we developed tolerance criteria that allow a performance evaluation of a tested mobility particle size spectrometer with respect to the total particle number concentration. We conclude that the automated function control enhances the quality and reliability of unattended long-term particle number size distribution measurements. This will have beneficial effects for intercomparison studies involving different measurement sites, and help provide a higher data accuracy for cohort health and climate research studies.
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    Mobility particle size spectrometers: Harmonization of technical standards and data structure to facilitate high quality long-term observations of atmospheric particle number size distributions
    (München : European Geopyhsical Union, 2012) Wiedensohler, A.; Birmili, W.; Nowak, A.; Sonntag, A.; Weinhold, K.; Merkel, M.; Wehner, B.; Tuch, T.; Pfeifer, S.; Fiebig, M.; Fjäraa, A.M.; Asmi, E.; Sellegri, K.; Depuy, R.; Venzac, H.; Villani, P.; Laj, P.; Aalto, P.; Ogren, J.A.; Swietlick, E.; Williams, P.; Roldin, P.; Quincey, P.; Hüglin, C.; Fierz-Schmidhauser, R.; Gysel, M.; Weingartner, E.; Riccobono, F.; Santos, S.; Grüning, C.; Faloon, K.; Beddows, D.; Harrison, R.; Monahan, C.; Jennings, S.G.; O'Dowd, C.D.; Marinoni, A.; Horn, H.-G.; Keck, L.; Jiang, J.; Scheckman, J.; McMurry, P.H.; Deng, Z.; Zhao, C.S.; Moerman, M.; Henzing, B.; de Leeuw, G.; Löschau, G.; Bastian, S.
    Mobility particle size spectrometers often referred to as DMPS (Differential Mobility Particle Sizers) or SMPS (Scanning Mobility Particle Sizers) have found a wide range of applications in atmospheric aerosol research. However, comparability of measurements conducted world-wide is hampered by lack of generally accepted technical standards and guidelines with respect to the instrumental set-up, measurement mode, data evaluation as well as quality control. Technical standards were developed for a minimum requirement of mobility size spectrometry to perform long-term atmospheric aerosol measurements. Technical recommendations include continuous monitoring of flow rates, temperature, pressure, and relative humidity for the sheath and sample air in the differential mobility analyzer. We compared commercial and custom-made inversion routines to calculate the particle number size distributions from the measured electrical mobility distribution. All inversion routines are comparable within few per cent uncertainty for a given set of raw data. Furthermore, this work summarizes the results from several instrument intercomparison workshops conducted within the European infrastructure project EUSAAR (European Supersites for Atmospheric Aerosol Research) and ACTRIS (Aerosols, Clouds, and Trace gases Research InfraStructure Network) to determine present uncertainties especially of custom-built mobility particle size spectrometers. Under controlled laboratory conditions, the particle number size distributions from 20 to 200 nm determined by mobility particle size spectrometers of different design are within an uncertainty range of around ±10% after correcting internal particle losses, while below and above this size range the discrepancies increased. For particles larger than 200 nm, the uncertainty range increased to 30%, which could not be explained. The network reference mobility spectrometers with identical design agreed within ±4% in the peak particle number concentration when all settings were done carefully. The consistency of these reference instruments to the total particle number concentration was demonstrated to be less than 5%. Additionally, a new data structure for particle number size distributions was introduced to store and disseminate the data at EMEP (European Monitoring and Evaluation Program). This structure contains three levels: raw data, processed data, and final particle size distributions. Importantly, we recommend reporting raw measurements including all relevant instrument parameters as well as a complete documentation on all data transformation and correction steps. These technical and data structure standards aim to enhance the quality of long-term size distribution measurements, their comparability between different networks and sites, and their transparency and traceability back to raw data.
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    Variability of black carbon mass concentrations, sub-micrometer particle number concentrations and size distributions: results of the German Ultrafine Aerosol Network ranging from city street to High Alpine locations
    (Amsterdam [u.a.] : Elsevier Science, 2018) Sun, J.; Birmili, W.; Hermann, M.; Tuch, T.; Weinhold, K.; Spindler, G.; Schladitz, A.; Bastian, S.; Löschau, G.; Cyrys, J.; Gu, J.; Flentje, H.; Briel, B.; Asbac, C.; Kaminski, H.; Ries, L.; Sohme, R.; Gerwig, H.; Wirtz, K.; Meinhardt, F.; Schwerin, A.; Bath, O.; Ma, N.; Wiedensohler, A.
    This work reports the first statistical analysis of multi-annual data on tropospheric aerosols from the German Ultrafine Aerosol Network (GUAN). Compared to other networks worldwide, GUAN with 17 measurement locations has the most sites equipped with particle number size distribution (PNSD) and equivalent black carbon (eBC) instruments and the most site categories in Germany ranging from city street/roadside to High Alpine. As we know, the variations of eBC and particle number concentration (PNC) are influenced by several factors such as source, transformation, transport and deposition. The dominant controlling factor for different pollutant parameters might be varied, leading to the different spatio-temporal variations among the measured parameters. Currently, a study of spatio-temporal variations of PNSD and eBC considering the influences of both site categories and spatial scale is still missing. Based on the multi-site dataset of GUAN, the goal of this study is to investigate how pollutant parameters may interfere with spatial characteristics and site categories. © 2019 The Authors
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    Some insights into the condensing vapors driving new particle growth to CCN sizes on the basis of hygroscopicity measurements
    (München : European Geopyhsical Union, 2015) Wu, Z.J.; Poulain, L.; Birmili, W.; Größ, J.; Niedermeier, N.; Wang, Z.B.; Herrmann, H.; Wiedensohler, A.
    New particle formation (NPF) and growth is an important source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). In this study, we investigated the chemical species driving new particle growth to the CCN sizes on the basis of particle hygroscopicity measurements carried out at the research station Melpitz, Germany. Three consecutive NPF events occurred during summertime were chosen as examples to perform the study. Hygroscopicity measurements showed that the (NH4)2SO4-equivalent water-soluble fraction accounts for 20 and 16 % of 50 and 75 nm particles, respectively, during the NPF events. Numerical analysis showed that the ratios of H2SO4 condensational growth to the observed particle growth were 20 and 13 % for 50 and 75 nm newly formed particles, respectively. Aerosol mass spectrometer measurements showed that an enhanced mass fraction of sulfate and ammonium in the newly formed particles was observed when new particles grew to the sizes larger than 30 nm shortly after the particle formation period. At a later time, the secondary organic species played a key role in the particle growth. Both hygroscopicity and aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements and numerical analysis confirmed that organic compounds were major contributors driving particle growth to CCN sizes. The critical diameters at different supersaturations estimated using AMS data and κ-Köhler theory increased significantly during the later course of NPF events. This indicated that the enhanced organic mass fraction caused a reduction in CCN efficiency of newly formed particles. Our results implied that the CCN production associated with atmospheric nucleation may be overestimated if assuming that newly formed particles can serve as CCN once they grow to a fixed particle size, an assumption made in some previous studies, especially for organic-rich environments. In our study, the enhancement in CCN number concentration associated with individual NPF events were 63, 66, and 69 % for 0.1, 0.4, and 0.6 % supersaturation, respectively.