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Prestigious publication in “Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics” – summarising results of the air pollution measurments made on our balloon.

Today the article summarising results of air pollution measurments that has been being taken on our balloon during every day flights, was published in prestigious, JCR listed magazine: “Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics”.

Summary of the publication:

Measurement report: Effect of wind shear on PM10 concentration vertical structure in the urban boundary layer in a complex terrain

Published in the journal ‘Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics’ (one of the best journals focused on atmospheric science – Impact Factor 6.133).

The research was conducted in collaboration between:

  • Balon Widokowy sp. z o.o.;
  • Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza im. Stanisława Staszica w Krakowie, Wydział Fizyki i Informatyki Stosowanej;
  • Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Instytut Geografii i Gospodarki Przestrzennej
  • Instytut Meteorologii i Gospodarki Wodnej, Państwowy Instytut Badawczy, Oddział Kraków

Authors: Piotr Sekuła, Anita Bokwa, Jakub Bartyzel, Bogdan Bochenek, Łukasz Chmura, Michał Gałkowski, Mirosław Zimnoch

Unfavourable air quality conditions are considered to be one of the most important environmental problems not only in Krakow but on a national and global scale. High concentrations of pollutants have a profound impact on the health of the population, from minor physiological disturbances to the development of serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Faridi et al., 2018). On the one hand, air quality is influenced by the amount of pollutants emitted from local sources and, on the other hand, by meteorological conditions affecting the city’s ventilation and dispersion of pollutants by vertical mixing of air masses. In certain meteorological situations, chemical reactions can also take place in the air itself, creating harmful compounds such as ozone (Trompetter et al. 2013, Zhou et al. 2020).

How pollutants are transferred to higher parts of the atmosphere depends on many factors – including the season, meteorological conditions (Wang et al., 2018), topography (Trompetter et al., 2013; Strbova et al., 2017) and short- and long-range transport (Li and Han, 2016).

The research presented below discusses the impact of wind shear (sudden change in wind direction and speed in the vertical profile) on the vertical profile of suspended particulate matter PM10 concentration in a city located in a valley on the example of Kraków.

The research was possible thanks to the cooperation with Balon Widokowy Sp. z o. o. which provided its infrastructure to measure vertical profiles of meteorological parameters and the concentration of suspended particulate matter in the atmosphere of Krakow. Balloon flights took place in the vicinity of Wawel Castle, close to the Vistula River, near the air quality monitoring station on Krasiński Street and Dietla Street. Measurements of PM10 concentration were carried out with the use of a measuring device built by the AGH Environmental Physics Group, called the Personal Dust Monitor (PoDust v1.1). The first measurements of PM10 concentration in the balloon were made in November 2019. The data collected during that winter (up to March 2020) have been used to investigate how the wind changes the concentration of pollution over Krakow. The vertical profiles of the concentration of PM10 obtained during the measurement campaign were classified using the method based on the sigmoid curve fitting function presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Classification of PM10 vertical profiles into the three main types: (a) type I (it is presented in two plots due to a wide range of PM10 concentration values); (b) type II; (c) type III. Explanations: grey lines – individual vertical profiles of PM10 concentration; red lines – mean profiles of a certain type.

It is commonly believed that the higher wind speed makes the better city ventilation and the better air quality observed in the city. Studies have shown that under specific wind conditions related to the southern circulation, often accompanied by a fohn wind, the opposite effect may occur, causing the formation of a cold air pool in the valley of the city and deterioration of air quality.
Further studies are planned, including night balloon measurements during episodes of high PM10 concentration. Additionally, we plan to determine the share of particles of different aerodynamic diameter and origin in PM10 using a sensor based on the method of scattering the laser beam at different angles (LOAC instrument). This research will be possible thanks to the cooperation with scientists from France who conducted similar research using a tethered balloon in Paris.
Among the identified types of vertical contamination profile, type III (S-shaped vertical concentration profile) deserves special attention. In the present study, on the days of balloon flights, the appearance of the vertical profile of PM10 pollution type III (S-shaped) was associated with the advection of air masses from the south (possible negative influence of the fohn wind for this direction). The most important factor that determined this vertical profile was wind shear and the occurrence of near-ground thermal inversion (temperature increase with height) during the day. These factors contributed to the capture of local pollution inside the Vistula river valley.

Full text:

The article is available for free (open access) at:


Faridi, S., Shamsipour, M., Krzyzanowski, M., Kunzli, N., Amini, H., Azimi, F., Malkawi, M., Momeniha, F., Gholampour, A., Hassanvand, M. S., and Naddafi, K.: Long-term trends and health impact of PM2.5 and O-3 in Tehran, Iran, 2006-2015, Environment International, 114, 37-49, 10.1016/j.envint.2018.02.026, 2018.

Li, J. W. and Han, Z. W.: Aerosol vertical distribution over east China from RIEMS-Chem simulation in comparison with CALIPSO measurements, Atmospheric Environment, 143, 177-189, 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.08.045, 2016.

Strbova, K., Raclavska, H., and Bilek, J.: Impact of fugitive sources and meteorological parameters on vertical distribution of particulate matter over the industrial agglomeration, Journal of Environmental Management, 203, 1190-1198, 10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.06.001, 2017.

Trompetter, W. J., Grange, S. K., Davy, P. K., and Ancelet, T.: Vertical and temporal variations of black carbon in New Zealand urban areas during winter, Atmospheric Environment, 75, 179-187, 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.04.036, 2013.

Wang, H., Sun, Z. B., Li, H. Y., Gao, Y., Wu, J., and Cheng, T. T.: Vertical-distribution Characteristics of Atmospheric Aerosols under Different Thermodynamic Conditions in Beijing, Aerosol and Air Quality
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Zhou, S. Z., Wu, L. L., Guo, J. C., Chen, W. H., Wang, X. M., Zhao, J., Cheng, Y. F., Huang, Z. Z., Zhang, J. P., Sun, Y. L., Fu, P. Q., Jia, S. G., Tao, J., Chen, Y. N., and Kuang, J. X.: Measurement report: Vertical distribution of atmospheric particulate matter within the urban boundary layer in southern China – size-segregated chemical composition and secondary formation through cloud processing and heterogeneous reactions, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20, 6435-6453, 10.5194/acp-20-6435-2020, 2020.