Spatial extent of new particle formation events over the Mediterranean Basin from multiple ground-based and airborne measurements


  • Berland Kevin
  • Rose Clémence
  • Pey Jorge
  • Culot Anais
  • Freney Evelyn
  • Kalivitis Nikolaos
  • Kouvarakis Giorgios
  • Cerro José Carlos
  • Mallet Marc
  • Sartelet Karine
  • Beckmann Matthias
  • Bourriane Thierry
  • Roberts Greg
  • Marchand Nicolas
  • Mihalopoulos Nikolaos
  • Sellegri Karine

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Over the last two decades, new particle formation (NPF), i.e., the formation of new particle clusters from gas-phase compounds followed by their growth to the 10–50 nm size range, has been extensively observed in the atmosphere at a given location, but their spatial extent has rarely been assessed. In this work, we use aerosol size distribution measurements performed simultaneously at Ersa (Corsica) and Finokalia (Crete) over a 1-year period to analyze the occurrence of NPF events in the Mediterranean area. The geographical location of these two sites, as well as the extended sampling period, allows us to assess the spatial and temporal variability in atmospheric nucleation at a regional scale. Finokalia and Ersa show similar seasonalities in the monthly average nucleation frequencies, growth rates, and nucleation rates, although the two stations are located more than 1000 km away from each other. Within this extended period, aerosol size distribution measurements were performed during an intensive campaign (3 July to 12 August 2013) from a ground-based station on the island of Mallorca, as well as onboard the ATR-42 research aircraft. This unique combination of stationary and mobile measurements provides us with detailed insights into the horizontal and vertical development of the NPF process on a daily scale. During the intensive campaign, nucleation events occurred simultaneously both at Ersa and Mallorca over delimited time slots of several days, but different features were observed at Finokalia. The results show that the spatial extent of the NPF events over the Mediterranean Sea might be as large as several hundreds of kilometers, mainly determined by synoptic conditions. Airborne measurements gave additional information regarding the origin of the clusters detected above the sea. The selected cases depicted contrasting situations, with clusters formed in the marine boundary layer or initially nucleated above the continent or in the free troposphere (FT) and further transported above the sea.

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