Towards understanding the characteristics of new particle formation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Baalbaki, Rima; Pikridas, Michael; Jokinen, Tuija; Laurila, Tiia; Dada, Lubna; Bezantakos, Spyros; Ahonen, Lauri; Neitola, Kimmo; Maisser, Anne; Bimenyimana, Elie; Christodoulou, Aliki; Unga, Florin; Savvides, Chrysanthos; Lehtipalo, Katrianne; Kangasluoma, Juha; Biskos, George; Petäjä, Tuukka; Kerminen, Veli-Matti; Sciare, Jean; Kulmala, Markku

To quantify the contribution of new particle formation (NPF) to ultrafine particle number and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) budgets, one has to understand the mechanisms that govern NPF in different environments and its temporal extent. Here, we study NPF in Cyprus, an Eastern Mediterranean country located at the crossroads of three continents and affected by diverse air masses originating from continental, maritime, and desert-dust source areas. We performed 1-year continuous measurements of aerosol particles down to inline-formula∼ 1 nm in diameter for the first time in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region. These measurements were complemented with trace gas data, meteorological variables, and retroplume analysis. We show that NPF is a very frequent phenomenon at this site and has higher frequencies of occurrence during spring and autumn. NPF events were both of local and regional origin, and the local events occurred frequently during the month with the lowest NPF frequency. Some NPF events exhibited multiple onsets, while others exhibited apparent particle shrinkage in size. Additionally, NPF events were observed during the nighttime and during episodes of high desert-dust loadings. Particle formation rates and growth rates were comparable to those in urban environments, although our site is a rural one. Meteorological variables and trace gases played a role in explaining the intra-monthly variability of NPF events, but they did not explain why summer months had the least NPF frequency. Similarly, pre-existing aerosol loading did not explain the observed seasonality. The months with the least NPF frequency were associated with higher Hinline-formula2SOinline-formula4 concentrations but lower NOinline-formula2 concentrations, which is an indicator of anthropogenic influence. Air masses arriving from the Middle East were not observed during these months, which could suggest that precursor vapors important for nucleation and growth are transported to our site from the Middle East. Further comprehensive measurements of precursor vapors are required to prove this hypothesis.

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Baalbaki, Rima / Pikridas, Michael / Jokinen, Tuija / et al: Towards understanding the characteristics of new particle formation in the Eastern Mediterranean. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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