Daily, weekly, and seasonal time courses of VOC concentrations in a semi-urban area near Barcelona

I. Filella, J. Peñuelas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    88 Citations (Scopus)


    In order to study the daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns and possible origins of air concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), measurements were taken on a minute-by-minute basis with a PTR-MS in the vicinity of a highway in a semi-urban site near Barcelona. Four periods of the year were chosen and samples were taken under different meteorological conditions and at different phenological stages of the surrounding vegetation. None of the measured VOCs concentrations exceeded air-quality guidelines. The results showed that diurnal, weekly, and seasonal fluctuations in measured VOC concentrations depended on variations in the strength of sources, as well as on photochemical activity and meteorological conditions. There was a decrease in concentrations in most VOCs when mixing depth, photochemical destruction, and wind speed increased at midday. On the other hand, high values of some VOCs occurred at night when the strength of their sinks and the mixing layer decreased. Interestingly, in June, night emissions and concentration peaks of methanol and acetone occurred in periods with dew formation and no wind. VOCs related to anthropogenic emissions presented a weekly pattern of variation with a clear distinction being found between working days and the weekend. The seasonal variation showed higher levels in December for all VOCs, except for isoprene. The thinning of the mixing layer leading to greater concentrations of volatiles and lower wind speeds in winter could account for those higher VOC levels. Benzene and toluene originated mainly from anthropogenic emissions. The sources of acetaldehyde, methanol, and acetone appeared to be mainly biogenic and these compounds were the most abundant of all the measured VOCs. Isoprene concentration patterns suggest a predominantly anthropogenic origin in December and March and a mainly biogenic origin in June and October. All these data provide useful information on the dynamics of VOCs in an area where ozone levels in summer exceed quite often the standard protection thresholds for O3. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7752-7769
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Issue number40
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


    • Anthropogenic VOCs
    • Biogenic VOCs
    • Mediterranean region
    • Semi-urban area
    • Traffic


    Dive into the research topics of 'Daily, weekly, and seasonal time courses of VOC concentrations in a semi-urban area near Barcelona'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this