Sources of organic aerosols in Europe: a modeling study using CAMx with modified volatility basis set scheme


  • Jiang Jianhui
  • Aksoyoglu Sebnem
  • El-Haddad Imad
  • Ciarelli Giancarlo
  • Denier van Der Gon Hugo
  • Canonaco Francesco
  • Gilardoni Stefania
  • Paglione Marco
  • Minguillón María Cruz
  • Favez Olivier
  • Zhang Yunjiang
  • Marchand Nicolas
  • Hao Liqing
  • Virtanen Annele
  • Florou Kalliopi
  • O'Dowd Colin
  • Ovadnevaite Jurgita
  • Baltensperger Urs
  • Prevot André

document type



Source apportionment of organic aerosols (OAs) is of great importance to better understand the health impact and climate effects of particulate matter air pollution. Air quality models are used as potential tools to identify OA components and sources at high spatial and temporal resolution ; however, they generally underestimate OA concentrations , and comparisons of their outputs with an extended set of measurements are still rare due to the lack of long-term experimental data. In this study, we addressed such challenges at the European level. Using the regional Comprehensive Air Quality Model with Extensions (CAMx) and a volatility basis set (VBS) scheme which was optimized based on recent chamber experiments with wood burning and diesel vehicle emissions, and which contains more source-specific sets compared to previous studies, we calculated the contribution of OA components and defined their sources over a whole-year period (2011). We modeled separately the primary and secondary OA contributions from old and new diesel and gasoline vehicles, biomass burning (mostly residential wood burning and agricultural waste burning excluding wildfires), other anthropogenic sources (mainly shipping, industry and energy production) and biogenic sources. An important feature of this study is that we evaluated the model results with measurements over a longer period than in previous studies , which strengthens our confidence in our modeled source apportionment results. Comparison against positive matrix factorization (PMF) analyses of aerosol mass spectrometric measurements at nine European sites suggested that the modified VBS scheme improved the model performance for total OA as well as the OA components, including hydrocarbon-like (HOA), biomass burning (BBOA) and oxygenated components (OOA). By using the modified VBS scheme, the mean bias of OOA was reduced from − 1.3 to −0.4 µg m −3 corresponding to a reduction of mean fractional bias from Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. 15248 J. Jiang et al.: Sources of organic aerosols in Europe −45 % to −20 %. The winter OOA simulation, which was largely underestimated in previous studies, was improved by 29 % to 42 % among the evaluated sites compared to the default parameterization. Wood burning was the dominant OA source in winter (61 %), while biogenic emissions contributed ∼ 55 % to OA during summer in Europe on average. In both seasons, other anthropogenic sources comprised the second largest component (9 % in winter and 19 % in summer as domain average), while the average contributions of diesel and gasoline vehicles were rather small (∼ 5 %) except for the metropolitan areas where the highest contribution reached 31 %. The results indicate the need to improve the emission inventory to include currently missing and highly uncertain local emissions, as well as further improvement of VBS parameterization for winter biomass burning. Although this study focused on Europe, it can be applied in any other part of the globe. This study highlights the ability of long-term measurements and source apportionment mod-eling to validate and improve emission inventories, and identify sources not yet properly included in existing inventories.

more information