Trans-National Access

Trans-National Access (TNA) at Barcelona ACTRIS aerosol in situ / aerosol remote sensing observational station

The Barcelona ACTRIS station combines measurement capabilities satisfying the requirements of ACTRIS National Facilities for aerosol in-situ and aerosol remote sensing in an urban site, creating an aerosol observational supersite. The TNA is jointly provided by CSIC (aerosol in-situ) and UPC (aerosol remote sensing) in facilities located at 300 m of each other,

Barcelona Cluster (CSIC-UPC) Atmospheric Research network is a unique infrastructure for atmospheric research located in NE Spain. It is integrated by a cluster of three observational platforms for atmospheric aerosols: Barcelona (BCN, Urban background, 78 m a.s.l.), Montseny (MSY, Regional background, 720 m a.s.l.) and Montsec (MSA, mountain site, 1590 m a.s.l.).

These sites are operated in collaboration with the Direcció General de Qualitat Ambiental - DGQA – from the Secretaría de Medi Ambient i Sostenibilitat, from Departament de Territory i Sostenibilitat from the Generalitat de Catlunya. These sites are part of the network Xarxa de vigilancia y previsió de la contaminació atmosférica.

The design of the network aims to provide a picture of atmospheric aerosols at different environments that can be considered as representative of northeast Spain, in the western Mediterranean Basin. Comparison between measurements obtained at these environments permits us to investigate sources and processes of atmospheric aerosols, and provides insight in order to define adequate strategies for air quality and climate policies.

The network of sites is well-equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation complying with ACTRIS requirements for aerosol in –situ (MSA, MSY and BCN) and remote sensing (BCN) observational facilities, and with measurement tools to estimate the aerosol radiative effects. Moreover, all sites are also equipped with instruments for trace gases, including VOCs in BCN. Ceilometers are also operated at MSA and MSY; an EARLINET high-power multi-wavelength aerosol lidar, an AERONET sun/sky/lunar photometer, a MPLNET micro-pulse lidar and several SolRad-Net radiometers are operated at BCN.

A comprehensive chemical speciation of PM fractions is regularly carried out at the three sites since 2002, providing a unique dataset for source apportionment, trends analysis and air quality research (see TABLE).


Table1: Chemical components determined at the PM 24h filters collected at each site.

Elements Sample treatment Analytical technique
Al, Mg, Ca, Fe, Na, K, S, P,

Acidic digestion ½ filter

Inductive Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP AES)
>50 elements: Li, P, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Rb, Sr, Cd, Sn, Sb, Ba, La, Pb, among others

Acidic digestión ½ filter

Inductive Coupled Plasma
Mass Spectrometry (ICP MS)

NO3-, SO42-, NH4+ and Cl-

Water extraction ¼ filter

Ion Chromatography HPLC
OC, EC,(TC)   SUNSET OCEC analyzer

Access to the network allows to investigate three different environments, connecting Air Quality, Health and Climate Research. It is the only infrastructure as such in the Western Mediterranean Basin, a unique region for atmospheric research given the high insolation, the specific meteorology, the elevated emissions of pollutants, and the frequent impact of dust outbreaks.

Moreover, collaboration of host organizations with Air Quality Monitoring Networks in Barcelona facilitates the access to AQ roadside monitoring sites for investigating exhaust and non-exhaust emissions.

Barcelona cluster participates in Pilots 2 and 4 in RI URBANS project. Pilot2 is devoted to develop and test NRT data provision of nanoparticles and their size distributions (Barcelona, Birmingham, Helsinki). Pilot 4 will evaluate, the health effects of novel AQ metrics and their source contributions, including PM components (mass concentrations) and nanoparticles (number concentrations), using epidemiology and oxidative potential tools.  Access to the Barcelona cluster provides a good opportunity to contribute to RI-Urbans objectives.

TNA modalities

  • The supersite offers both physical and remote access. You can design your experiment and either carry it out on site by yourself or use internet interactive access; in both cases you will count with the help of highly qualified site personnel.
  • Assistance in data interpretation. Site personnel will assist you in putting together the results from different instruments and interpreting them.
  • Training. The site offers the opportunity of hands-on training on instruments and techniques by experts.


Barcelona can be reached from most origins through its international airport. It is also connected by high-speed train to European locations. Accommodation at reasonable rates can be booked at the Torre Girona comfort residence in UPC campus, within walking distance of the facilities.




   Aerosol in-situ and remote



   In-situ measurements



   Aerosol high power lidar (EARLINET), Sun/sky/lunar photometer (AERONET),
   Micro-pulse lidar (MPLNET), Pyranometer and PAR Quantum (SolRad-Net)

MONTSENY Regional background

MONTSENY Regional background

   In-situ measurements.

MONTSEC Mountain site

MONTSEC Mountain site

   In-situ measurements.



The Barcelona urban background monitoring site (BCN) is located northwest of Barcelona, a coastal city, densely populated, with intense road traffic, harbour and airport emissions. This leads to NO2 concentrations often exceeding EU limit values, in addition to PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations frequently above WHO guidelines.


The site consists of three air-conditioned shelters for aerosol in-situ and trace gas monitoring, located in the private gardens of the IDAEA facilities (41° 23'14.28"N, 2°6'56.34"E, 77 meters asl). In each container there is an array of PMx inlets. The IDAEA site is equipped with instruments for measuring physical, optical and chemical properties of aerosols (see table). State-of-the-art instruments such as Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (Q-ACSM) and ToF-PTRMS are operative since 2018 and 2021, respectively. The ACSM provides real-time measurements (30 minute averages) of the chemical composition and mass concentrations of non-refractory species in submicron aerosol particles. The ToF-PTRMS 4000 Ionicon provides continuous measurement of VOCs.

Moreover, instruments for aerosol remote sensing are located at UPC CommSensLab, (41°23'20.8"N 2°06'42.2"E, 115 meters asl) 200 m from the IDAEA facilities.

CommSensLab – UPC

CommSensLab – UPC

Aerosol high power lidar integrated in EARLINET:

  • Laser Inolas Spitlight Compact 400:

    • Wavelengths (pulse energy): 1064 (400 mJ), 532 (240 mJ) and 355 nm (120 mJ)

    • Pulse length: 5-7 ns

  • Elastic channels at 355 nm, 532 nm and 1064 nm.

  • Pure rotational Raman channels at 354 nm and 531 nm for aerosol extinction coefficient measurement.

  • Depolarization channels at 355 nm and 532 nm.

  • Raman Water vapor channel at 407 nm.

  • Photon-counting detection for 354, 355, 407, 531 and 532 nm.

  • Full overlap: 1000 m (~200 m with overlap correction).

  • Remote operation.

Sun/sky/lunar photometer (CE318-TP9) with 9 channels and depolarization measurement capability integrated in AERONET

Ancillary instrumentation

  • Micro-pulse lidar at 532 nm with depolarization channel integrated in MPLNET

  • Pyranometer Kipp&Zonen CM-21 integrated in SolRad-Net.

  • PAR Quantum Skye SKE-510 integrated in SolRad-Net

  • Up- and down-ward pyranometers and pyrgeometers Kipp&Zonen CNR4.



Research carried out at this site is included in the Air Quality and Exposure assessment research lines. This research aims to:

  • Interpret the variability of levels, composition and physical properties of atmospheric aerosols at an urban location in the Western Mediterranean
  • Identify the source origin and atmospheric processes controlling aerosol levels and characteristics.
  • Quantify the origin of PM components with special interest in organic aerosols and the urban contribution to mineral matter.
  • Support air quality action plans.
  • Provide a long-term time series of regulated and novel metrics as a relevant input to epidemiological and health impact assessment (HIA) studies performed within this research team and in collaboration with internationally recognised research centres.
  • Investigate the link between PM sources and health outcomes

Barcelona cluster participates in Pilots 2 and 4 in RI URBANS project. Pilot2 is devoted to develop and test NRT data provision of nanoparticles and their size distributions. Pilot 4 will evaluate, the health effects of novel AQ metrics and their source contributions, including PM components (mass concentrations) and nanoparticles (number concentrations), using epidemiology and oxidative potential tools.