Original paper

Small-scale variability of particulate matter and perception of air quality in an inner-city recreational area in Aachen, Germany

Paas, Bastian; Schmidt, Teresa; Markova, Stanimira; Maras, Isabell; Ziefle, Martina; Schneider, Christoph

Meteorologische Zeitschrift Vol. 25 No. 3 (2016), p. 305 - 317

41 references

published: Jun 20, 2016
published online: Apr 29, 2016
manuscript accepted: Dec 23, 2015
manuscript revision received: Dec 22, 2015
manuscript revision requested: Aug 6, 2015
manuscript received: Apr 30, 2015

DOI: 10.1127/metz/2016/0704

BibTeX file


Open Access (paper can be downloaded for free)

Download paper for free


Spatial micro-scale variability of particle mass concentrations is an important criterion for urban air quality assessment. In this study we present results from detailed spatio-temporal measurements in the urban roughness layer along with a survey to determine perceptions of citizens regarding air quality in an inner city park in Aachen, Germany. Particles were sampled with two different approaches in February, May, July and September 2014 using an optical particle counter at six fixed measurement locations, representing different degrees of outdoor particle exposure that can be experienced by a pedestrian walking in an intra-urban recreational area. A simulation of aerosol emissions induced by road traffic was conducted using the German reference dispersion model Austal2000. The mobile measurements revealed unexpected details in the distribution of urban particles with highest mean concentrations of PM(1;10) inside the green area 100 m away from bus routes (arithmetic mean: 22.5 μg m−3 and 18.9 μg m−3; geometric mean: 9.3 μg m−3 and 6.5 μg m−3), whereas measurement sites in close proximity to traffic lines showed far lower mean values (arithmetic mean: 7.5 μg m−3 and 8.7 μg m−3; geometric mean: 5.8 μg m−3 and 6.5 μg m−3). Concerning simulation results, motor traffic is still proved to be an important aerosol source in the area, although the corresponding concentrations declined rapidly as the distances to the line sources increased. Further analysis leads to the assumption that particularly coarse particles were emitted through diffuse sources e.g. on the ability of surfaces to release particles by resuspension which were dominantly apparent in measured PM(1;10) and PM(0.25;10) data. The contribution of diffuse particle sources and urban background transport to local PM(0.25;10) concentrations inside the green area were quantified to be up to 17.9 μg m−3. The analysis of perception related experiments demonstrate that particle concentrations in form of PM(0.25;10) were inconsistent with park user opinions regarding perception of air quality. At least in investigated concentration magnitudes there proved to be no connection between user assessment and physical values at all.


particulate mattermicro-scaleair quality perceptionvehicle emissionsdispersion modellingAustal2000recreational areaenvironmental pollutionpersonal exposure