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European Geosciences Union, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 1(20), p. 577-596, 2020

DOI: 10.5194/acp-20-577-2020



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Atmospheric ammonia variability and link with particulate matter formation: a case study over the Paris area

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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The Paris megacity experiences frequent particulate matter (i.e.PM2.5, particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 µm) pollution episodes in spring (March–April). At this time of the year, large numbers of the particles consist of ammonium sulfate and nitrate which are formed from ammonia (NH3) released during fertilizer spreading practices and transported from the surrounding areas to Paris. There is still limited knowledge of the emission sources around Paris, their magnitude, and their seasonality. Using space-borne NH3 observation records of 10 years (2008–2017) and 5 years (2013–2017) provided by the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) and the Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) instrument, regional patterns of NH3 variabilities (seasonal and interannual) are derived. Observations reveal identical high seasonal variability with three major NH3 hotspots found from March to August. The high interannual variability is discussed with respect to atmospheric total precipitation and temperature. A detailed analysis of the seasonal cycle is performed using both IASI and CrIS instrument data, together with outputs from the CHIMERE atmospheric model. For 2014 and 2015, the CHIMERE model shows coefficients of determination of 0.58 and 0.18 when compared to IASI and CrIS, respectively. With respect to spatial variability, the CHIMERE monthly NH3 concentrations in spring show a slight underrepresentation over Belgium and the United Kingdom and an overrepresentation in agricultural areas in the French Brittany–Pays de la Loire and Plateau du Jura region, as well as in northern Switzerland. In addition, PM2.5 concentrations derived from the CHIMERE model have been evaluated against surface measurements from the Airparif network over Paris, with which agreement was found (r2 = 0.56) with however an underestimation during spring pollution events. Using HYSPLIT cluster analysis of back trajectories, we show that NH3 total columns measured in spring over Paris are enhanced when air masses originate from the north-east (e.g. the Netherlands and Belgium), highlighting the importance of long-range transport in the NH3 budget over Paris. Variability in NH3 in the north-east region is likely to impact NH3 concentrations in the Parisian region since the cross-correlation function is above 0.3 (at lag = 0 and 1 d). Finally, we quantify the key meteorological parameters driving the specific conditions important for the formation of PM2.5 from NH3 in the Île-de-France region in spring. Data-driven results based on surface PM2.5 measurements from the Airparif network and IASI NH3 measurements show that a combination of the factors such as a low boundary layer of ∼500 m, a relatively low temperature of 5 ∘C, a high relative humidity of 70 %, and wind from the north-east contributes to a positive PM2.5 and NH3 correlation.

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