Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 185, Issue 11, pp 9177–9189 | Cite as

Statistical distributions of trace metal concentrations in the northwestern Mediterranean atmospheric aerosol

  • Thomas Robin
  • Lionel Guidi
  • Aurélie Dufour
  • Christophe Migon


The concentrations of 11 crustal and anthropogenic trace metals (Li, Al, V, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) were measured from 2006 to 2008 in the atmospheric aerosol at a northwestern Mediterranean coast (station of Cap Ferrat, situated on the southeastern coast of France). Statistical models (lognormal, Weibull, and gamma) that best represented the trace metal distribution for this environment are described. The lognormal model was selected for the distributions of (in decreasing strength of the fit) Al, Co, Li, Zn, Mn, Cu, Pb, and Cd, i.e., metals that are introduced into the atmospheric aerosol by pulses inducing temporal variability in their concentrations. The gamma model was associated with Fe, i.e., metals that exhibit less inter-annual variability than the former trace metals. The third mode (Weibull) represented the distribution of the concentrations of V and Ni. The statistical approach presented in this study contributed to better define and constrain the distribution of the 11 trace metals of the atmospheric aerosol from the northwestern Mediterranean coast. In a close future, knowledge of these statistical distributions will allow using convolution models to separate their natural and anthropogenic contributions, therefore increasing our ability to study anthropogenic emissions of trace metals and their impact on the environment.


Trace metals Probability distribution analysis Lognormal Weibull Gamma Likelihood maximization 



This work was partly supported by the Conseil Général des Alpes-Maritimes and the Communauté Nice Côte d’Azur (project AIRMED 06). T. Robin contribution was partly supported by the Swiss National Fund. We thank the French Marine team of the Cap Ferrat naval signal station. We also thank Patrick Chang for language corrections. L. Guidi contribution was partly supported by the Center for Microbial Oceanography, Research and Education (C-MORE; NSF grant EF-0424599) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Robin
    • 1
  • Lionel Guidi
    • 2
  • Aurélie Dufour
    • 3
    • 4
  • Christophe Migon
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Transport and Mobility LaboratoryTRANSP-OR Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), UMR 7093, Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-merVillefranche-sur-MerFrance
  4. 4.CNRS/INSU, UMR 7093, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de VillefrancheVillefranche-sur-MerFrance

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