Novel insights on new particle formation derived from a pan-european observing system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The formation of new atmospheric particles involves an initial step forming stable clusters less than a nanometre in size (<~1 nm), followed by growth into quasi-stable aerosol particles a few nanometres (~1-10 nm) and larger (>~10 nm). Although at times, the same species can be responsible for both processes, it is thought that more generally each step comprises differing chemical contributors. Here, we present a novel analysis of measurements from a unique multi-station ground-based observing system which reveals new insights into continental-scale patterns associated with new particle formation. Statistical cluster analysis of this unique 2-year multi-station dataset comprising size distribution and chemical composition reveals that across Europe, there are different major seasonal trends depending on geographical location, concomitant with diversity in nucleating species while it seems that the growth phase is dominated by organic aerosol formation. The diversity and seasonality of these events requires an advanced observing system to elucidate the key processes and species driving particle formation, along with detecting continental scale changes in aerosol formation into the future.


  • M. Dall'Osto
  • D. C.S. Beddows
  • A. Asmi
  • L. Poulain
  • L. Hao
  • E. Freney
  • J. D. Allan
  • M. Canagaratna
  • M. Crippa
  • F. Bianchi
  • G. De Leeuw
  • H. C. Hansson
  • J. S. Henzing
  • C. Granier
  • K. Zemankova
  • P. Laj
  • T. Onasch
  • A. Prevot
  • J. P. Putaud
  • K. Sellegri
  • M. Vidal
  • A. Virtanen
  • R. Simo
  • D. Worsnop
  • C. O'Dowd
  • M. Kulmala
  • Roy M. Harrison
External organisations
  • University of Birmingham
  • National University of Ireland Galway
  • University of Helsinki
  • Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS)
  • University of Eastern Finland
  • Blaise Pascal University
  • University of Manchester
  • Paul Scherrer Institute
  • European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra
  • Finnish Meteorological Institute
  • Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (Utrecht)
  • Stockholm University
  • Laboratoire D'Aérologie
  • University of Colorado
  • Charles University in Prague
  • University Grenoble Alpes
  • University of Barcelona
  • King Abdulaziz University
  • CSIC Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM)
  • Aerodyne Research Inc.
  • NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Article number1482
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch