Significant increase of aerosol number concentrations in air masses crossing a densely trafficked sea area

In this study, we evaluated 10 months data (September 2009 to June 2010) of atmospheric aerosol particle number size distribution at three atmospheric observation stations along the Baltic Sea coast: Vavihill (upwind, Sweden), Utö (upwind, Finland), and Preila (downwind, Lithuania). Differences in aerosol particle number size distributions between the upwind and downwind stations during situations of connected atmospheric flow, when the air passed each station, were used to assess the contribution of ship emissions to the aerosol number concentration (diameter interval 50–400 nm) in the Lithuanian background coastal environment. A clear increase in particle number concentration could be noticed, by a factor of 1.9 from Utö to Preila (the average total number concentration at Utö was 791 cm−3), and by a factor of 1.6 from Vavihill to Preila (the average total number concentration at Vavihill was 998 cm−3). The simultaneous measurements of absorption Ångström exponents close to unity at Preila supported our conclusion that ship emissions in the Baltic Sea contributed to the increase in particle number concentration at Preila.

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