Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Evaluation and modelling of the spatial and temporal variability of particulate matter in urban areas

Mia Pohjola

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Sciences, Division of Atmospheric Sciences.

This thesis contains three subject areas concerning particulate matter in urban area air quality: 1) Analysis of the measured concentrations of particulate matter mass concentrations in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (HMA) in different locations in relation to traffic sources, and at different times of year and day. 2) The evolution of traffic exhaust originated particulate matter number concentrations and sizes in local street scale are studied by a combination of a dispersion model and an aerosol process model. 3) Some situations of high particulate matter concentrations are analysed with regard to their meteorological origins, especially temperature inversion situations, in the HMA and three other European cities. The prediction of the occurrence of meteorological conditions conducive to elevated particulate matter concentrations in the studied cities is examined. The performance of current numerical weather forecasting models in the case of air pollution episode situations is considered.

The study of the ambient measurements revealed clear diurnal variation of the PM10 concentrations in the HMA measurement sites, irrespective of the year and the season of the year. The diurnal variation of local vehicular traffic flows seemed to have no substantial correlation with the PM2.5 concentrations, indicating that the PM10 concentrations were originated mainly from local vehicular traffic (direct emissions and suspension), while the PM2.5 concentrations were mostly of regionally and long-range transported origin.

The modelling study of traffic exhaust dispersion and transformation showed that the number concentrations of particles originating from street traffic exhaust undergo a substantial change during the first tens of seconds after being emitted from the vehicle tailpipe. The dilution process was shown to dominate total number concentrations. Minimal effect of both condensation and coagulation was seen in the Aitken mode number concentrations.

The included air pollution episodes were chosen on the basis of occurrence in either winter or spring, and having at least partly local origin. In the HMA, air pollution episodes were shown to be linked to predominantly stable atmospheric conditions with high atmospheric pressure and low wind speeds in conjunction with relatively low ambient temperatures. For the other European cities studied, the best meteorological predictors for the elevated concentrations of PM10 were shown to be temporal (hourly) evolutions of temperature inversions, stable atmospheric stability and in some cases, wind speed. Concerning the weather prediction during particulate matter related air pollution episodes, the use of the studied models were found to overpredict pollutant dispersion, leading to underprediction of pollutant concentration levels.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 28.09.2006

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