Potential Source Density Function: A New Tool for Identifying Air Pollution Sources

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Potential source density function (PSDF) is developed to identify, that is, locate and quantify, source areas of ambient trace species based on Gaussian process regression (GPR), a machine-learning technique. The PSDF model requires backward trajectories and sampling data at a receptor site in the calculation as in the conventional model to locate source areas of ambient trace species, such as the potential source contribution function (PSCF). The PSDF model can identify source areas quantitatively and provide information on the reliability of the estimation, while the PSCF model cannot. To verify and evaluate the capability of the PSDF model, tests are carried out using three scenarios based on ambient trajectory analysis data and simulated source distributions. The test results demonstrate that the PSDF model can identify the sources of ambient trace species more accurately than the PSCF model. The PSDF model can quantify the size of the source contaminating the air parcels passing through it, and the model can detect the variation of source intensity. Also, in the test, we evaluate reliability of the information provided by the PSDF model. In addition, future works are recommended to improve the model and increase its applicability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number210236
JournalAerosol and Air Quality Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Air pollution
  • Gaussian process
  • Regression
  • Source identification
  • Trajectory analysis


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