Measurement report: Interpretation of wide-range particulate matter size distributions in Delhi

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ALVER ŞAHİN Ü., Harrison R. M. , Alam M. S. , Beddows D. C. S. , Bousiotis D., Shi Z., ...More

ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, vol.22, no.8, pp.5415-5433, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.5194/acp-22-5415-2022
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, Environment Index, Geobase, Metadex, Pollution Abstracts, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.5415-5433
  • Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa Affiliated: Yes


Delhi is one of the world's most polluted cities, with very high concentrations of airborne particulate matter. However, little is known about the factors controlling the characteristics of wide-range particle number size distributions. Here, new measurements are reported from three field campaigns conducted in winter and pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons at the Indian Institute of Technology campus in the south of the city. Particle number size distributions were measured simultaneously, using a scanning mobility particle sizer and a GRIMM optical particle monitor, covering 15 nm to > 10 mu m diameter. The merged, wide-range size distributions were categorized into the following five size ranges: nucleation (15-20 nm), Aitken (20-100 nm), accumulation (100 nm-1 mu m), large fine (1-2.5 mu m), and coarse (2.5-10 mu m) particles. The ultrafine fraction (15-100 nm) accounts for about 52 % of all particles by number (PN10 is the total particle number from 15 nm to 10 mu m) but just 1 % by PM10 volume (PV10 is the total particle volume from 15 nm to 10 mu m). The measured size distributions are markedly coarser than most from other parts of the world but are consistent with earlier cascade impactor data from Delhi. Our results suggest substantial aerosol processing by coagulation, condensation, and water uptake in the heavily polluted atmosphere, which takes place mostly at nighttime and in the morning hours. Total number concentrations are highest in winter, but the mode of the distribution is largest in the post-monsoon (autumn) season. The accumulation mode particles dominate the particle volume in autumn and winter, while the coarse mode dominates in summer. Polar plots show a huge variation between both size fractions in the same season and between seasons for the same size fraction. The diurnal pattern of particle numbers is strongly reflective of a road traffic influence upon concentrations, especially in autumn and winter, although other sources, such as cooking and domestic heating, may influence the evening peak. There is a clear influence of diesel traffic at nighttime, when it is permitted to enter the city, and also indications in the size distribution data of a mode < 15 nm, which is probably attributable to CNG/LPG vehicles. New particle formation appears to be infrequent and is, in this dataset, limited to 1 d in the summer campaign. Our results reveal that the very high emissions of airborne particles in Delhi, particularly from traffic, determine the variation in particle number size distributions.