89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 14 January 2009: 2:15 PM
The meteorology of aerosol particle formation events
Room 127A (Phoenix Convention Center)
David M. Schultz, Univ. of Helsinki/FMI, Helsinki, Finland; and L. Sogacheva, S. B. Mazon, and I. Riipinen
Studies of secondary aerosol-particle formation depend on identifying days in which new particle formation occurs and, by comparing them to days with no signs of particle formation, identifying the conditions favorable for formation. Continuous aerosol size distribution data has been collected at the SMEAR II station in a boreal forest in Hyytiälä, Finland, since 1996, making it the longest time series of aerosol size distributions available worldwide. In previous studies, the data have been classified as particle-formation event, nonevent, and undefined days. To investigate the meteorological conditions favorable for new-particle formation events, we examined synoptic weather maps and satellite images over Southern Finland for 2003–2005, focusing mainly on air mass types, atmospheric frontal passages, and cloudiness. Arctic air masses are most favourable for new aerosol particle formation in the boreal forest. New particle formation tends to occur on days after passage of a cold front and on days without frontal passages. Cloudiness, often associated with frontal passages, decreases the amount of solar radiation, reducing the growth of new particles. When cloud cover exceeds 3–4 octas, particle formation proceeds at a slower rate or does not occur at all. During 2003–2005, the conditions that favour particle formation at Hyytiälä (Arctic air mass, post-cold-frontal passage or no frontal passage and cloudiness less than 3–4 octas) occur on 198 days. On 105 (57%) of those days, new particle formation occurred, indicating that these meteorological conditions alone can favor, but are not sufficient for, new particle formation and growth. In contrast, 53 days (28%) were classified as undefined days; 30 days (15%) were non-event days, where no evidence of increasing particle concentration and growth has been noticed.

To understand the undefined days better, we performed an investigation, focusing specifically on the undefined days. Undefined days from the eleven years (1996–2006) (1628 days, or 40% of the dataset) were reanalyzed and subdivided into three new classes: failed events (37% of all previously undefined days), ultrafine-mode concentration peaks (34%), and pollution-related concentration peaks (19%). Unclassified days (10%) comprised the rest of the previously undefined days. The failed events were further subdivided into tail events (21%), where a tail of a formation event presumed to be advected to Hyytiälä from elsewhere, and quasi events (16%) where new particles appeared at sizes 3–10 nm, but showed unclear growth, the mode persisted for less than an hour, or both. The ultrafine concentration peaks days were further subdivided into nucleation-mode peaks (24%) and Aitken-mode peaks (10%), depending on the size range where the particles occurred. The mean annual distribution of the failed events has a maximum during summer, whereas the two peak classes have maxima during winter. The summer minimum previously found in the seasonal distribution of event days partially offsets a summer maximum in failed-event days. Daily-mean relative humidity and condensation sink values are useful in discriminating the new classes from each other. Specifically, event days had low values of relative humidity and condensation sink relative to nonevent days. Failed-event days possessed intermediate condensation sink and relative humidity values, whereas both ultrafine-mode peaks and, to a greater extent, pollution-related peaks had high values of both, similar to nonevent days. Using 96-h back trajectories, particle-size concentrations were plotted as a function of time the trajectory spent over land. Increases in particle size and number concentration during failed-event days were similar to that during the later stages of event days, whereas the particle size and number concentration for both nonevent and peaks classes did not increase as fast as for event and failed events days.

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