5 years ago

Investigating vertical distribution patterns of lower tropospheric PM2.5 using unmanned aerial vehicle measurements

A lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was outfitted with miniaturized sensors to investigate the vertical distribution patterns and sources of fine aerosol particles (PM2.5) within the 1 000 m lower troposphere. A total of 16 UAV flights were conducted in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region, China, from the summer to winter in 2014. The associated ground-level measurements from two environmental monitoring stations were also used for background analysis. The results show that ground-level PM2.5 concentrations demonstrated a decreasing trend from Feb. to Jul. and an increasing trend from Aug. to Jan. (the following year). Higher PM2.5 concentrations during the day were mainly observed in the morning (Local Time, LT 05-09) in the spring and summer. However, higher PM2.5 concentrations occurred mainly in the late afternoon and evening (LT 16-20) in the autumn and winter, excluding severe haze pollution days when higher PM2.5 concentrations were also observed during the morning periods. Lower tropospheric PM2.5 concentrations exhibited similar diurnal vertical distribution patterns from the summer to winter. The PM2.5 concentrations decreased with height in the morning, with significantly large vertical gradients from the summer to winter. By contrast, the aerosol particles were well mixed with PM2.5 concentrations of lower than 35 μg m 3 in the early afternoon (LT 12-16) due to sufficient expansions of the planetary boundary layer. The mean vertical PM2.5 concentrations within the 1 000 m lower troposphere in the morning were much larger in the winter (∼87.5 μg m 3 ) than in the summer and autumn (∼20 μg m 3 ). However, subtle differences of ∼11 μg m 3 in the mean vertical PM2.5 concentrations were observed in the early afternoon from the summer to winter. The vertical distribution patterns of black carbon and its relationships with PM2.5 indicated that the lower tropospheric aerosol particles might be mainly derived from fossil-fuel combustion sources. In addition, a 48-h backward trajectory analysis of air parcels showed that the lower tropospheric aerosol particles were mainly from emissions of local sources in the YRD region in the summer and autumn. By sharp contrast, the aerosol particles of this region in the winter were mainly of long-range transport sources from the north and northwest China due to the impact of Asian winter monsoon.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1352231017307549

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