Derivation of Black Carbon Proxies in an Integrated Urban Air Quality Monitoring Network

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Title: Derivation of Black Carbon Proxies in an Integrated Urban Air Quality Monitoring Network
Author: Fung, Pak Lun
Contributor organization: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Doctoral Programme in Atmospheric Sciences
Helsingin yliopisto, matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta
Ilmakehätieteiden tohtoriohjelma
Helsingfors universitet, matematisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten
Doktorandprogrammet i atmosfärvetenskap
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2022-01-21
Language: eng
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental health challenges in the world, especially in the urban regions where about 90% of the world’s population lives. Black carbon (BC) has been demonstrated to play an important role in climate change, air quality and potential risk for human beings. BC has also been suggested to associate better with health effects of aerosol particles than the commonly monitored particulate matter, which does not solely originate from combustion sources. Furthermore, BC has been recommended to be included as one of the parameters in air quality index (AQI) which is communicated to citizens. However, due to financial constraints and the lack of the national legislation, BC has yet been measured in every air quality monitoring station. Therefore, some researchers developed low-cost sensors which give indicative ambient BC concentrations as an alternative. Even so, due to instrument failure or data corruption, measurements by physical sensors are not always possible and long data gaps can exist. With missing data, the data analysis of interactions between air pollutants becomes more uncertain; therefore, air quality models are needed for data gap imputation and, moreover, for sensor virtualization. To complement the current deficiency, this thesis aims to derive statistical proxies as virtual sensors to estimate BC by using the current air quality monitoring network in Helsinki metropolitan area (HMA). To achieve this, we first characterized the ambient BC concentrations in four types of environments in HMA: traffic site (TR: 0.77–2.08 μg m−3), urban background (UB: 0.51–0.53 μg m−3), detached housing (DH: 0.64–0.80 μg m−3) and regional background (RB: 0.27–0.28 μg m−3). TR, in general, had higher BC concentrations due to the close proximity to vehicular emission but decreasing trends (–10.4 % yr−1) likely thanks to the fast renewal of the city bus fleet in HMA. UB, on the other hand, had a more diverse source of BC, including biomass burning and traffic combustion. Its trend had also been decreasing, but at a smaller rate (e.g. UB1: –5.9 % yr−1). We then narrowed down the dataset to a street canyon site and an urban background site for BC proxy derivation. At both sites, despite the low correlation with meteorological factors, BC correlated well with other commonly monitored air pollutant parameters by both reference instruments and low-cost sensors, such as NOx and PM2.5. Based on this close association, we developed a statistical proxy with adaptive selection of input variables, named input-adaptive proxy (IAP). This white-box model worked better in terms of accuracy at the street canyon site (R2 = 0.81–0.87) than the urban background site (R2 = 0.44–0.60) because of the scarce missing gaps in data in the street canyon. When compared with other white- and black-box models, IAP is preferred because of its flexibility and architectural transparency. We further demonstrated the feasibility of sensor virtualization by using statistical proxies like IAP at both sites. We also stressed that such virtual sensors are location specific, but it might be possible to extend the models from one street canyon site to another with a calibration factor. Similarly, the proposed methodology can also be applied to estimate other air pollutant parameters with scarcity of data, such as lung deposited surface area and ultrafine particles, to complement the existing AQI.-
Subject: atmospheric science
Rights: Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

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