Spatial extension of nucleating air masses in the Carpathian Basin
Particle number size distributions were measured by differential mobility particle sizer in the diameter range of 6–1000 nm in the near-city background and city centre of Budapest continuously for two years. The city is situated in the middle part of the Carpathian Basin, which is a topographically discrete unit in the southeastern part of central Europe. Yearly mean nucleation frequencies and uncertainties for the near-city background and city centre were (28 + 6/−4) % and (27 + 9/−4) %, respectively. The total numbers of days with continuous and uninterrupted growth process were 43 and 31, respectively. These events and their properties were utilised to investigate the spatial scale of the nucleation in the basin, and whether there are any specific trajectories for the nucleating air masses. Local wind speed and direction data indicated that there seem to be differences between the nucleation and growth intervals and non-nucleation days. For further analysis, backward trajectories were generated by a simple air parcel trajectory model. Start and end time parameters of the nucleation and an end time parameter of the particle growth were derived by a standardised procedure based on examining the channel contents of the contour plots. These parameters were used to specify a segment on each backward trajectory that is associated with the nucleating air mass. The results indicated that regional nucleation happened in the continental boundary layer mostly in the Carpathian Basin but that the most distant trajectories originated outside of the basin. The nucleating air masses were predominantly associated with NW and SE geographical sectors, and some of them were also related to larger forested territories. The results also emphasised indirectly that the regional new particle formation and growth phenomena observable at the fixed location often expand to the bulk of the Carpathian Basin.