China has experienced severe hazes with high concentrations of particulate matter in recent years. The understanding of the size spectrum evolution of submicron particulate matter is critical to making efficient remediation policies to minimize the regional and global environmental impacts from hazes. During a time period of about one month, we monitored five severe haze episodes in Xi’an and four severe haze episodes in Beijing, which were characterized by two distinct kinds of aerosol mass concentration growth processes: accumulative-rise and abrupt-rise. A new method was developed to quantitatively evaluate the physical and chemical contributions to growth processes by analysing the size spectrum evolution data. The results showed that the accumulative-rise processes are governed by primary emissions and the abrupt-rise processes are governed by secondary chemical reactions. The population balance equations (PBE) were used to describe the variation of size spectrum of fine particulate matter, and the respective contributions of the physical aggregation rate and the chemical growth rate. The PBE model is solved using the adjustable direct quadrature method of moments (ADQMOM) to simulate the abrupt-rise process of haze development and to calibrate the contribution of the physical and chemical effects on the size spectrum of aerosol particles.
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