Simulating the fine and coarse inorganic particulate matter concentrations in a polluted megacity

Vlassis A. Karydis, Alexandra P. Tsimpidi, Christos Fountoukis, Athanasios Nenes, Miguel Zavala, Wenfang Lei, Luisa T. Molina, Spyros N. Pandis

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25 Citations (Scopus)


A three dimensional chemical transport model (PMCAMx) is applied to the Mexico City Metropolitan Area (MCMA) in order to simulate the chemical composition and mass of the major PM1 (fine) and PM1-10 (coarse) inorganic components and determine the effect of mineral dust on their formation. The aerosol thermodynamic model ISORROPIA-II is used to explicitly simulate the effect of Ca, Mg, and K from dust on semi-volatile partitioning and water uptake. The hybrid approach is applied to simulate the inorganic components, assuming that the smallest particles are in thermodynamic equilibrium, while describing the mass transfer to and from the larger ones. The official MCMA 2004 emissions inventory with improved dust and NaCl emissions is used. The comparison between the model predictions and measurements during a week of April of 2003 at Centro Nacional de Investigacion y Capacitacion Ambiental (CENICA) "Supersite" shows that the model reproduces reasonably well the fine mode composition and its diurnal variation. Sulfate predicted levels are relatively uniform in the area (approximately 3 μg m-3), while ammonium nitrate peaks in Mexico City (approximately 7 μg m-3) and its concentration rapidly decreases due to dilution and evaporation away from the urban area. In areas of high dust concentrations, the associated alkalinity is predicted to increase the concentration of nitrate, chloride and ammonium in the coarse mode by up to 2 μg m-3 (a factor of 10), 0.4 μg m-3, and 0.6 μg m-3 (75%), respectively. The predicted ammonium nitrate levels inside Mexico City for this period are sensitive to the physical state (solid versus liquid) of the particles during periods with RH less than 50%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-620
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Chemical transport model
  • Dust
  • Nitrate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Karydis, V. A., Tsimpidi, A. P., Fountoukis, C., Nenes, A., Zavala, M., Lei, W., Molina, L. T., & Pandis, S. N. (2010). Simulating the fine and coarse inorganic particulate matter concentrations in a polluted megacity. Atmospheric Environment, 44(5), 608-620.