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Intercomparison of 15 aerodynamic particle size spectrometers (APS 3321): Uncertainties in particle sizing and number size distribution

2016, Pfeifer, Sascha, Müller, Thomas, Weinhold, Kay, Zikova, Nadezda, dos Santos, Sebastiao Martins, Marinoni, Angela, Bischof, Oliver F., Kykal, Carsten, Ries, Ludwig, Meinhardt, Frank, Aalto, Pasi, Mihalopoulos, Nikolaos, Wiedensohler, Alfred

Aerodynamic particle size spectrometers are a well-established method to measure number size distributions of coarse mode particles in the atmosphere. Quality assurance is essential for atmospheric observational aerosol networks to obtain comparable results with known uncertainties. In a laboratory study within the framework of ACTRIS (Aerosols, Clouds, and Trace gases Research Infrastructure Network), 15 aerodynamic particle size spectrometers (APS model 3321, TSI Inc., St. Paul, MN, USA) were compared with a focus on flow rates, particle sizing, and the unit-to-unit variability of the particle number size distribution. Flow rate deviations were relatively small (within a few percent), while the sizing accuracy was found to be within 10 % compared to polystyrene latex (PSL) reference particles. The unit-to-unit variability in terms of the particle number size distribution during this study was within 10 % to 20 % for particles in the range of 0.9 up to 3 µm, which is acceptable for atmospheric measurements. For particles smaller than that, the variability increased up to 60 %, probably caused by differences in the counting efficiencies of individual units. Number size distribution data for particles smaller than 0.9 µm in aerodynamic diameter should only be used with caution. For particles larger than 3 µm, the unit-to-unit variability increased as well. A possible reason is an insufficient sizing accuracy in combination with a steeply sloping particle number size distribution and the increasing uncertainty due to decreasing counting. Particularly this uncertainty of the particle number size distribution must be considered if higher moments of the size distribution such as the particle volume or mass are calculated, which require the conversion of the aerodynamic diameter measured to a volume equivalent diameter. In order to perform a quantitative quality assurance, a traceable reference method for the particle number concentration in the size range 0.5–3 µm is needed.

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Decreasing trends of particle number and black carbon mass concentrations at 16 observational sites in Germany from 2009 to 2018

2020, Sun, Jia, Birmili, Wolfram, Hermann, Markus, Tuch, Thomas, Weinhold, Kay, Merkel, Maik, Rasch, Fabian, Müller, Thomas, Schladitz, Alexander, Bastian, Susanne, Löschau, Gunter, Cyrys, Josef, Gu, Jianwei, Flentje, Harald, Briel, Björn, Asbach, Christoph, Kaminski, Heinz, Ries, Ludwig, Sohmer, Ralf, Gerwig, Holger, Wirtz, Klaus, Meinhardt, Frank, Schwerin, Andreas, Bath, Olaf, Ma, Nan, Wiedensohler, Alfred

Anthropogenic emissions are dominant contributors to air pollution. Consequently, mitigation policies have been attempted since the 1990s in Europe to reduce pollution by anthropogenic emissions. To evaluate the effectiveness of these mitigation policies, the German Ultrafine Aerosol Network (GUAN) was established in 2008, focusing on black carbon (BC) and sub-micrometre aerosol particles. In this study, long-term trends of atmospheric particle number concentrations (PNCs) and equivalent BC (eBC) mass concentration over a 10-year period (2009-2018) were determined for 16 GUAN sites ranging from roadside to high Alpine environments. Overall, statistically significant decreasing trends are found for most of these parameters and environments in Germany. The annual relative slope of eBC mass concentration varies between-13.1% and-1.7% per year. The slopes of the PNCs vary from-17.2% to-1.7 %,-7.8% to-1.1 %, and-11.1% to-1.2% per year for 10-30, 30-200, and 200-800 nm size ranges, respectively. The reductions in various anthropogenic emissions are found to be the dominant factors responsible for the decreasing trends of eBC mass concentration and PNCs. The diurnal and seasonal variations in the trends clearly show the effects of the mitigation policies for road transport and residential emissions. The influences of other factors such as air masses, precipitation, and temperature were also examined and found to be less important or negligible. This study proves that a combination of emission mitigation policies can effectively improve the air quality on large spatial scales. It also suggests that a long-term aerosol measurement network at multi-type sites is an efficient and necessary tool for evaluating emission mitigation policies. © 2020 Author(s).

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Properties of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in the trade wind marine boundary layer of the western North Atlantic

2016, Kristensen, Thomas B., Müller, Thomas, Kandler, Konrad, Benker, Nathalie, Hartmann, Markus, Prospero, Joseph M., Wiedensohler, Alfred, Stratmann, Frank

Cloud optical properties in the trade winds over the eastern Caribbean Sea have been shown to be sensitive to cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations. The objective of the current study was to investigate the CCN properties in the marine boundary layer (MBL) in the tropical western North Atlantic, in order to assess the respective roles of inorganic sulfate, organic species, long-range transported mineral dust and sea-salt particles. Measurements were carried out in June–July 2013, on the east coast of Barbados, and included CCN number concentrations, particle number size distributions and offline analysis of sampled particulate matter (PM) and sampled accumulation mode particles for an investigation of composition and mixing state with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in combination with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). During most of the campaign, significant mass concentrations of long-range transported mineral dust was present in the PM, and influence from local island sources can be ruled out. The CCN and particle number concentrations were similar to what can be expected in pristine marine environments. The hygroscopicity parameter κ was inferred, and values in the range 0.2–0.5 were found during most of the campaign, with similar values for the Aitken and the accumulation mode. The accumulation mode particles studied with TEM were dominated by non-refractory material, and concentrations of mineral dust, sea salt and soot were too small to influence the CCN properties. It is highly likely that the CCN were dominated by a mixture of sulfate species and organic compounds.