Characteristics of airborne ultrafine and coarse particles during the Australian dust storm of 23 September 2009
Particle number concentrations and size distributions, visibility and particulate mass concentrations and weather parameters were monitored in Brisbane, Australia, on 23 September 2009, during the passage of a dust storm that originated 1400 km away in the dry continental interior. The dust concentration peaked at about mid-day when the hourly average PM2.5 and PM10 values reached 814 and 6460 μg m−3, respectively, with a sharp drop in atmospheric visibility. A linear regression analysis showed a good correlation between the coefficient of light scattering by particles (Bsp) and both PM10 and PM2.5. The particle number in the size range 0.5-20 μm exhibited a lognormal size distribution with modal and geometrical mean diameters of 1.6 and 1.9 μm, respectively. The modal mass was around 10 μm with less than 10% of the mass carried by particles smaller than 2.5 μm. The PM10 fraction accounted for about 68% of the total mass. By mid-day, as the dust began to increase sharply, the ultrafine particle number concentration fell from about 6x103 cm−3 to 3x103 cm−3 and then continued to decrease to less than 1x103 cm−3 by 14h, showing a power-law decrease with Bsp with an R2 value of 0.77 (p<0.01). Ultrafine particle size distributions also showed a significant decrease in number during the dust storm. This is the first scientific study of particle size distributions in an Australian dust storm.