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Long-term trends of black carbon and particle number concentration in the lower free troposphere in Central Europe

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Sun Jia, Hermann Markus, Yuan Ye, Birmili Wolfram, Collaud Coen Martine, Weinhold Kay, Madueño Leizel, Poulain Laurent, Tuch Thomas, Ries Ludwig, Sohmer Ralf, Couret Cedric, Frank Gabriele, Brem Benjamin Tobias, Gysel-Beer Martin, Ma Nan, Wiedensohler Alfred,
Project ICOS-CH Phase 2
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Environmental Sciences Europe
Volume (Issue) 33(1)
Page(s) 47 - 47
Title of proceedings Environmental Sciences Europe
DOI 10.1186/s12302-021-00488-w

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


AbstractBackgroundThe implementation of emission mitigation policies in Europe over the last two decades has generally improved the air quality, which resulted in lower aerosol particle mass, particle number, and black carbon mass concentration. However, little is known whether the decreasing particle concentrations at a lower-altitude level can be observed in the free troposphere (FT), an important layer of the atmosphere, where aerosol particles have a longer lifetime and may affect climate dynamics. In this study, we used data from two high-Alpine observatories, Zugspitze-Schneefernerhaus (ZSF) and Jungfraujoch (JFJ), to assess the long-term trends on size-resolved particle number concentrations (PNCs) and equivalent black carbon (eBC) mass concentration separated for undisturbed lower FT conditions and under the influence of air from the planetary boundary layer (PBL) from 2009 to 2018.ResultsThe FT and PBL-influenced conditions were segregated for both sites. We found that the FT conditions in cold months were more prevalent than in warm months, while the measured aerosol parameters showed different seasonal patterns for the FT and PBL-influenced conditions. The pollutants in the PBL-influenced condition have a higher chance to be transported to high-altitudes due to the mountainous topography, leading to a higher concentration and more distinct seasonal variation, and vice versa. The long-term trends of the measured aerosol parameters were evaluated and the decreased aerosol concentrations were observed for both FT and PBL-influenced conditions. The observed decreasing trends in eBC concentration in the PBL-influenced condition are well consistent with the reported trends in total BC emission in Germany and Switzerland. The decreased concentrations in the FT condition suggest that the background aerosol concentration in the lower FT over Central Europe has correspondingly decreased. The change of back trajectories in the FT condition at ZSF and JFJ was further evaluated to investigate the other possible drivers for the decreasing trends.ConclusionsThe background aerosol concentration in the lower FT over Central Europe has significantly decreased during 2009–2018. The implementation of emission mitigation policies is the most decisive factor and the decrease of the regional airmass occurrence over Central Europe also has contributed to the decreasing trends.