Simulation of particle diversity and mixing state over Greater Paris: a model–measurement inter-comparison
Air quality models are used to simulate and forecast pollutant concentrations, from continental scales to regional and urban scales. These models usually assume that particles are internally mixed, i.e. particles of the same size have the same chemical composition, which may vary in space and time. Although this assumption may be realistic for continental-scale simulations, where particles originating from different sources have undergone sufficient mixing to achieve a common chemical composition for a given model grid cell and time, it may not be valid for urban-scale simulations, where particles from different sources interact on shorter time scales. To investigate the role of the mixing state assumption on the formation of particles, a size-composition resolved aerosol model (SCRAM) was developed and coupled to the Polyphemus air quality platform. Two simulations, one with the internal mixing hypothesis and another with the external mixing hypothesis, have been carried out for the period 15 January to 11 February 2010, when the MEGAPOLI winter field measurement campaign took place in Paris. The simulated bulk concentrations of chemical species and the concentrations of individual particle classes are compared with the observations of Healy et al. (Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2013, 13, 9479–9496) for the same period. The single particle diversity and the mixing-state index are computed based on the approach developed by Riemer et al. (Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2013, 13, 11423–11439), and they are compared to the measurement-based analyses of Healy et al. (Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2014, 14, 6289–6299). The average value of the single particle diversity, which represents the average number of species within each particle, is consistent between simulation and measurement (2.91 and 2.79 respectively). Furthermore, the average value of the mixing-state index is also well represented in the simulation (69% against 59% from the measurements). The spatial distribution of the mixing-state index shows that the particles are not mixed in urban areas, while they are well mixed in rural areas. This indicates that the assumption of internal mixing traditionally used in transport chemistry models is well suited to rural areas, but this assumption is less realistic for urban areas close to emission sources.