Cite this article: Crawford, J., Cohen, D.D., Griffiths, A.D., Chambers, S.D., Williams, A.G. and Stelcer, E. (2017). Impact of Atmospheric Flow Conditions on Fine Aerosols in Sydney, Australia.
Aerosol Air Qual. Res.
17: 1746-1759. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2017.02.0083
PMF identified 7 sources contributing to the PM2.5 at Lucas Heights, Australia.
Flow conditions were classified as stagnation, recirculation and ventilation.
Highest PM2.5 concentrations were recorded under recirculation flow conditions.
Highest vehicle exhaust concentration was recorded during local recirculation.
Highest secondary sulfate concentrations occurred under recirculation.
We apply a simple objective measure of an airshed’s degree of ventilation and determine the impact on PM2.5 observations at Lucas Heights, Sydney, Australia. We extend the analysis of previous studies, which considered total PM2.5, by: using positive matrix factorisation to split the aerosol mass by source type; and using Radon-222 measurements as an independent indicator of ventilation and mixing. For this coastal airshed we found that for 64% of the time, conditions could be classified into four categories: local recirculation (LRC; 15%), stagnation (19.5%), regional recirculation (RRC; 10.9%), or ventilation (18.6%). Mean PM2.5 concentrations under recirculation (in this study separated into; LRC and RRC) were 33% higher than under stagnation and can be double that of concentrations under ventilation. Since the combination of LRC and RRC events account for around 26% of all events, recirculation effects on PM2.5 concentrations are significant. However, we found that airshed ventilation doesn’t affect PM2.5 concentrations from all sources evenly. Considering the three main sources of total PM2.5 at this site (vehicle exhaust 26.3%, secondary sulfate 23.7% and aged industrial sulfur 20.6%), conditions leading to the highest concentrations differ. The highest vehicle exhaust concentrations occur under LRC, the highest aged-industrial-sulphur concentrations occur under RRC, and secondary sulfur had similarly high concentrations under LRC and RRC. Under LRC the concentration from vehicle exhaust can be up to a factor of 3.9 greater than under ventilation. On a seasonal basis, RRC flow is most likely to occur in summer and spring (the warmer months of the year when sea breezes are more likely), whereas LRC conditions are more likely to occur in autumn and winter. These findings support those of previous studies, indicating that re-circulation can have a significant effect on PM2.5 concentrations in coastal airsheds, and the degree of impact can vary by source type.