Original paper

Micro-scale variability of urban particle number and mass concentrations in Leipzig, Germany

Birmili, Wolfram; Rehn, Johanna; Vogel, Andreas; Boehlke, Christoph; Weber, Konradin; Rasch, Fabian

Meteorologische Zeitschrift Vol. 22 No. 2 (2013), p. 155 - 165

published: Apr 1, 2013

DOI: 10.1127/0941-2948/2013/0394

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We investigated the micro-scale variability of particle number and mass concentrations in the urban atmosphere of Leipzig, Germany. Particles were sampled in May and June 2011 using portable instrumentation along a fixed measurement route, representing different degrees of outdoor particle exposure that can be experienced by a pedestrian. The instrumentation comprised a Grimm NanoCheck sensor for particle number (25-300 nm) and a Grimm OPC for particle mass concentrations. The mobile measurements conducted at a time resolution of 10 s revealed rich details in the spatio-temporal distribution of urban particles that were not visible in fixed-site measurements. Motor traffic proved to be a major source of particle number and mass in the area, although the corresponding concentrations declined rapidly when moving away from the traffic sources. The experiments demonstrate that traffic-free zones and green park areas are useful measures to limit outdoor exposure to traffic-related particles even if they are rather modest in size. Unexpected findings include high fine particle concentrations (PM[0.25;1]) near outdoor seating areas of restaurants, and the apparent dependence of coarse particle concentrations (PM[2.5;10]) on the ability of surfaces to release particles by resuspension. The study illustrates the usefulness of the spatial sensing of airborne particles in the urban roughness layer and encourages the use of such data for the validation of micro-scale dispersion models.