The Aerosol Research Observation Station (AEROS)
Information on atmospheric particles' concentration and sizes is important for environmental and human health reasons. Air quality monitoring stations (AQMSs) for measuring particulate matter (PM) concentrations are found across the United States, but only three AQMSs measure PM2.5 concentrations (mass of particles with an aerodynamic diameter of <g2.5gμm) in the Southern High Plains of West Texas (area ≥g1.8g×g105gkm2). This area is prone to many dust events (g1/4g21gyr-1), yet no information is available on other PM sizes, total particle number concentration, or size distribution during these events. The Aerosol Research Observation Station (AEROS) was designed to continuously measure these particles' mass concentrations (PM1, PM2.5, PM4, and PM10) and number concentrations (0.25-35.15gμm) using three optical particle sensors (Grimm 11-D, OPS, and DustTrak) to better understand the impact of dust events on local air quality. The AEROS aerosol measurement unit features a temperature-controlled shed with a dedicated inlet and custom-built dryer for each of the three aerosol instruments used. This article provides a description of AEROS as well as an intercomparison of the different instruments using laboratory and atmospheric particles. Instruments used in AEROS measured a similar number concentration with an average difference of 2g±g3gcm-1 (OPS and Grimm 11-D using similar particle size ranges) and a similar mass concentration, with an average difference of 8g±g3.6gμggm-3 for different PM sizes between the three instruments. Grimm 11-D and OPS had a similar number concentration and size distribution, using a similar particle size range and similar PM10 concentrations (mass of particles with an aerodynamic diameter of <g10gμm). Overall, Grimm 11-D and DustTrak had good agreement in mass concentration, and comparison using laboratory particles was better than that with atmospheric particles. Overall, DustTrak measured lower mass concentrations compared to Grimm 11-D for larger particle sizes and higher mass concentrations for lower PM sizes. Measurement with AEROS can distinguish between various pollution events (natural vs. anthropogenic) based on their mass concentration and size distribution, which will help to improve knowledge of the air quality in this region.