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Biomass burning impact on PM2.5 over the southeastern US during 2007: Integrating chemically speciated FRM filter measurements, MODIS fire counts and PMF analysis

by X. Zhang, A. Hecobian, M. Zheng, N. H. Frank, R. J. Weber
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()

Abstract

Archived Federal Reference Method (FRM) Teflon filters used by state regulatory agencies for measuring PM<sub>2.5</sub> mass were acquired from 15 sites throughout the southeastern US and analyzed for water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC), water-soluble ions and carbohydrates to investigate biomass burning contributions to fine aerosol mass. Based on over 900 filters that spanned all of 2007, levoglucosan and K<sup>+</sup> were studied in conjunction with MODIS Aqua fire count data to compare their performances as biomass burning tracers. Levoglucosan concentrations exhibited a distinct seasonal variation with large enhancement in winter and spring and a minimum in summer, and were well correlated with fire counts, except in winter when residential wood burning contributions were significant. In contrast, K<sup>+</sup> concentrations had no apparent seasonal trend and poor correlation with fire counts. Levoglucosan and K<sup>+</sup> only correlated well in winter (<i>r</i><sup>2</sup>=0.59) when biomass burning emissions were highest, whereas in other seasons they were not correlated due to the presence of other K<sup>+</sup> sources. Levoglucosan also exhibited larger spatial variability than K<sup>+</sup>. Both species were higher in urban than rural sites (mean 44% higher for levoglucosan and 86% for K<sup>+</sup>). Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) was applied to analyze PM<sub>2.5</sub> sources and four factors were resolved: biomass burning, refractory material, secondary light absorbing WSOC and secondary sulfate/WSOC. The biomass burning source contributed 13% to PM<sub>2.5</sub> mass annually, 27% in winter, and less than 2% in summer, consistent with other souce apportionment studies based on levoglucosan, but lower in summer compared to studies based on K<sup>+</sup>.

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