Spatial and temporal variation of ambient carbonaceous aerosol in Ireland and strategies for effective monitoring of source contributions

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Heffernan, Eimear
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University College Cork
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The concentration, size and composition of atmospheric aerosols determines their impact on health and climate. These parameters are highly variable and inherently linked with source, seasonality and geographical location. In this study, a suite of instruments was deployed to quantitatively investigate the properties of ambient carbonaceous aerosol at six unique locations around Ireland. Source apportionment analysis was performed for the identification of dominant sources contributing to the ambient carbonaceous aerosol in each environment. This work serves to highlight the spatial and temporal variability of ambient carbonaceous aerosol in Ireland. Aethalometer data exhibited significant spatial variability of black carbon (BC). The lowest concentrations were recorded at regional background sites, while the highest concentrations were recorded in populous, urban settings. The aethalometer source apportionment model was used to demonstrate spatial variability of contributions from dominant sources. The temporal variability of carbonaceous aerosol was explored through data collected during long-term monitoring campaigns in Dublin and Enniscorthy. Strong seasonal variation in equivalent black carbon (eBC) was evident, particularly in locations strongly influenced by solid fuel burning for residential heating. Furthermore, approximately 40% and 72% of total eBC measured during winter at University College Dublin and Enniscorthy, respectively, was attributed to solid fuel combustion. Strong diurnal trends were observed in each location, however the absolute concentration was seasonally dependent. A pronounced evening peak, attributed to solid fuel combustion emissions, was observed at the majority of sampling sites during the winter months. Urban areas also had a morning peak consistent with rush hour and was attributed to the influence of traffic-related emissions. Novel data collected at several unique environments as part of three individual long-term monitoring campaigns, demonstrated the ubiquitous nature of carbonaceous aerosol, particularly BC, in Ireland and the associated impact on local air quality. Despite the negative implications on human health, air quality and climate, BC is not regulated or routinely monitored in Ireland. This research outlines the potential benefits of establishing an extensive, national BC monitoring network, including the collection of real-time data to inform vital air pollution mitigation policies.
Carbonaceous aerosol , Black carbon , Air pollution
Heffernan, E. 2022. Spatial and temporal variation of ambient carbonaceous aerosol in Ireland and strategies for effective monitoring of source contributions. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.