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Journal Article

Formation of nitrate and sulfate in the plume of Berlin


Lammel,  G.
Climate Processes, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;


Leip,  A.
Climate Processes, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Lammel, G., & Leip, A. (2005). Formation of nitrate and sulfate in the plume of Berlin. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 12(4), 213-220.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-FEC3-B
Secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA), i.e. particulate sulphate (S(VI)), ammonium and nitrate (N(V)) is formed from gaseous precursors i.e., sulfur dioxide (S(IV)), ammonia and nitrogen oxides, in polluted air on the time-scale of hours to days. Besides particulate ammonium and nitrate, the respective gaseous species ammonia and nitric acid can be formed, too. SIA contributes significantly to elevated levels of respirable particulate matter in urban areas and in strongly anthropogenically influenced air in general. The near-ground aerosol chemical composition was studied at two stationary sites in the vicinity of Berlin during a field campaign in summer 1998. By means of analysis of the wind field, two episodes were identified which allow to study changes within individual air masses during transport i.e., a Lagrangian type of experiment, with one station being upwind and the other downwind of the city. By reference to a passive tracer and estimates on dry depositional losses, the influences of dispersion and mixing on concentration changes can be eliminated from the data analysis. Chemical changes in N(-III), N(V) and S(VI) species were observed. SIA i.e., N(V) and S(VI), was formed from emissions in the city within a few hours. The significance of emissions in the city was furthermore confirmed by missing SIA formation in the case of transport around the city. For the two episodes, SIA formation rates could be derived, albeit not more precise than by an order of magnitude. N(V) formation rates were between 1.4 and 20 and between 1.9 and 59 % h-1 on the two days, respectively, and S(VI) formation rates were > 17 and > 10 % h-1. The area south of the city was identified as a source of ammonia. The findings suggest that locations at some 50 km downwind of Berlin receive elevated pollution levels when hit by the urban plume. The S(VI) formation rates are higher than explainable by homogeneous gas-phase chemistry. Lagrangian experiments are useful for the study of atmospheric chemistry under field conditions. Measurements at more than two sites could improve the diagnostic potential of this approach