Intercomparison of air ion spectrometers: an evaluation of results in varying conditions


We evaluated 11 air ion spectrometers from Airel Ltd. after they had spent one year in field measurements as a part of the EUCAARI project: 5 Air Ion Spectrometers (AIS), 5 Neutral cluster and Air Ion Spectrometers (NAIS) and one Airborne NAIS (ANAIS). This is the first time that an ANAIS is evaluated and compared so extensively. The ion spectrometers' mobility and concentration accuracy was evaluated. Their measurements of ambient air were compared between themselves and to reference instruments: a Differential Mobility Particle Sizer (DMPS), a Balanced Scanning Mobility Analyzer (BSMA), and an Ion-DMPS. We report on the simultaneous measurement of a new particle formation (NPF) event by all 11 instruments and the 3 reference instruments. To our knowledge, it is the first time that the size distribution of ions and particles is measured by so many ion spectrometers during a NPF event. The new particle formation rates (similar to 0.2 cm(-3) s(-1) for ions and similar to 2 cm(-3) s(-1) for particles) and growth rates (similar to 25 nm h(-1) in the 3-7 nm size range) were calculated for all the instruments. The NAISs and the ANAIS gave higher concentrations and formation rates than the AISs. For example, the AISs agreed with the BSMA within 11% and 28% for negative and positive ion concentration respectively, whereas the NAISs agreed within 23% and 29%. Finally, based on the results presented here, we give guidelines for data evaluation, when data from different individual ion spectrometers are compared.