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Original Research Papers

Effects of air masses and synoptic weather on aerosol formation in the continental boundary layer

Authors:

E. D. Nilsson ,

Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, SE
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J. Paatero,

Finnish Meteorological Institute, Air Quality Research, FI
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M. Boy

Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, FI
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Abstract

Nucleation of near nm sized aerosol particles and subsequent growth to ~100 nm in 1–2 days has in recent years been frequently observed in the continental boundary layer at several European locations. In 1998–99, this was the focus of the BIOFOR experiment in Hyytiälä in the boreal Finnish forest. Nucleation occurred in arctic and to some extent in polar air masses, with a preference for maritime air in transition to continental air masses, and never in sub-tropical air. The air masses originated north of the BIOFOR experiment by paths from the southwest to northeast sector. The nucleation was also associated with cold air advection behind cold fronts, never warm air advection. This may relate to low pre-existing aerosol concentration, low cloudiness and large diurnal amplitudes in the continental boundary layer associated with cold air advection and clear skies. Arctic and polar air together with cold air advection did not always lead to nucleation. The most important limiting meteorological factors were cold front passages and high cloudiness, probably through reduced photochemistry and wet scavenging of precursor gases and new aerosol particles. The preference for nucleation to occur in arctic air masses, which seldom form in the summer, suggests a meteorological explanation for the annual cycle of nucleation, which has a minimum in summer. The connection to cold-air outbreaks suggests that the maximum in nucleation events during spring and autumn may be explained by the larger latitudinal temperature gradients and higher cyclone activity at that time of the year. Nucleation was observed on the same days over large parts (1000-km distance) of the same air mass. This suggests that the aerosol nucleation spans from the microphysical scale to the synoptic scale, perhaps connected through boundary layer and mesoscale processes.

How to Cite: Nilsson, E.D., Paatero, J. and Boy, M., 2001. Effects of air masses and synoptic weather on aerosol formation in the continental boundary layer. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 53(4), pp.462–478. DOI: http://doi.org/10.3402/tellusb.v53i4.16619
  Published on 01 Jan 2001
 Accepted on 20 Mar 2001            Submitted on 4 May 2000

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