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Analysis of the physical and chemical properties of atmospheric aerosol at the Puy de Dôme station

Abstract : Aerosol particles are important due to their direct and indirect impacts on climate. Within the planetary boundary layer (BL), these particles have a relatively short lifetime due to their frequent removal process by wet deposition. When aerosols are transported into the free troposphere (FT), their atmospheric lifetime increases significantly, making them representative of large spatial areas. In this work, we use a combination of in situ measurements performed at the high altitude PUY (Puy de Dôme, 45°46’ N, 2°57’E, 1465 m asl) station, together with LIDAR profiles at Clermont-Ferrand for characterizing FT conditions, and further characterize the physical and chemical properties of aerosol in this poorly documented area of the atmosphere. First, a combination of four criteria was used to identify whether the PUY station lies within the FT or within the BL. Results show that the PUY station is located in BL with frequencies ranging from 50% during the winter, up to 97% during the summer. Then, the classification is applied to a year-long dataset of particle size distribution and NR-PM1 data’s to study the differences in particle physical and chemical characteristics and BC concentrations between the FT and the BL. Based on this segregation, we observed higher concentrations in the BL compared to FT for BC, Aitken and accumulation mode particle concentrations for most seasons, as expected from larger sources originating from the surface. However, BC, Aitken mode, accumulation mode and organic aerosols concentrations were higher in the FT compared to BL during spring. These organic aerosols were identified as aged/less aged, and were correlated with sulphate and BC and we suspect that the higher concentrations of particles observed in the FT compared to BL during spring originate from direct injection of BB aerosols in the FT through strong heat convection. No significant difference between the BL and the FT concentrations was observed for the nucleation mode particles for all seasons, suggesting a continuous additional source of nucleation mode particles in the FT during winter and autumn. Coarse mode particle concentrations were found higher in the FT than in the BL for all seasons and especially during summer. This indicates an efficient long-range transport of large particles in the FT from distant sources (marine and desert) due to higher wind speeds in the FT compared to BL. For FT air masses, we used 204-h air mass back-trajectories combined with boundary layer height estimations from ECMWF ERA-Interim to assess the time they spent in the FT since their last contact with the BL and to evaluate the impact of this parameter on the aerosol properties. We observed that even after 75 h without any contact with the BL, FT aerosols preserve specific properties of their air mass type. This manuscript is also presenting a study of simultaneous measurements at PUY and an urban low altitude station AtmoAura. Results show that when the PUY is influenced by FT air masses, the PM1 species are lower at the PUY compared to AtmoAura confirming our classification. When the PUY is predicted to lay within the BL, the aerosol composition was similar among the two sites for several species, which allowed for a quantification of the local urban pollution contribution for the species enhanced within the city of Clermont-Ferrand.
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Antoine Farah. Analysis of the physical and chemical properties of atmospheric aerosol at the Puy de Dôme station. Earth Sciences. Université Clermont Auvergne, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018CLFAC049⟩. ⟨tel-02064811⟩

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