Model simulations of cooking organic aerosol (COA) over the UK using estimates of emissions based on measurements at two sites in London

Riinu Ots, Massimo Vieno, J.D. Allan, Stefan Reis, E. Nemitz, D. E. Young, H. Coe, C.F. Di Marco, A. Detournay, Ian A. MacKenzie, D.C. Green, Mathew R. Heal

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Cooking organic aerosol (COA) is currently not included in European emission inventories. However, recent positive matrix factorization (PMF) analyses of aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) measurements have suggested important contributions of COA in several European cities. In this study, emissions of COA were estimated for the UK, based on hourly AMS measurements of COA made at two sites in London (a kerbside site in central London and an urban background site in a residential area close to central London) for the full calendar year of 2012 during the Clean Air for London (ClearfLo) campaign. Iteration of COA emissions estimates and subsequent evaluation and sensitivity experiments were conducted with the EMEP4UK atmospheric chemistry transport modelling system with a horizontal resolution of 5 km × 5 km.

The spatial distribution of these emissions was based on workday population density derived from the 2011 census data. The estimated UK annual COA emission was 7.4 Gg per year, which is an almost 10 % addition to the officially reported UK national total anthropogenic emissions of PM2.5 (82 Gg in 2012), corresponding to 320 mg person−1 day−1 on average. Weekday and weekend diurnal variation in COA emissions were also based on the AMS measurements. Modelled concentrations of COA were then independently evaluated against AMS-derived COA measurements from another city and time period (Manchester, Jan–Feb 2007), as well as with COA estimated by a chemical mass balance model of measurements for a two-week period at the Harwell rural site (~ 80 km west of central London).

The modelled annual average contribution of COA to ambient particulate matter (PM) in central London was between 1–2 μg m−3 (~ 20 % of total measured OA1), and between 0.5–0.7 μg m−3 in other major cities in England (Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds). It was also shown that cities smaller than London can have a central hot-spot of population density of smaller area than the computational grid cell, in which case higher localised COA concentrations than modelled here may be expected.

Modelled COA concentrations dropped rapidly outside of major urban areas (annual average of 0.12 μg m−3 for the Harwell location), indicating that although COA can be a notable component in urban air, it does not have a significant effect on PM concentrations on rural areas.

The possibility that the AMS PMF-apportionment measurements overestimate COA concentrations by up to a factor of 2 is discussed. Since COA is a primary emission, any downward adjustments in COA emissions would lead to a proportional linear downward scaling in the absolute magnitudes of COA concentrations simulated in the model.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberacp-16-13773-2016
Pages (from-to)13773-13789
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2016


  • PM2.5
  • cooking organic aerosol
  • Air pollution
  • Air quality modelling


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