Two distinct patterns of seasonal variation of airborne black carbon over Tibetan Plateau

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Airborne black carbon (BC) mass concentrations were measured from November 2012 to June 2013 at Ranwu and Beiluhe, located in the southeastern and central Tibetan Plateau, respectively. Monthly mean BC concentrations show a winter (November–February) high (413.2 ng m− 3) and spring (March–June) low (139.1 ng m− 3) at Ranwu, but in contrast a winter low and spring high at Beiluhe (204.8 and 621.6 ng m− 3, respectively). By examining the meteorological conditions at various scales, we found that the monthly variation of airborne BC over the southeastern Tibetan Plateau (TP) was highly influenced by regional precipitation and over the hinterland by winds. Local precipitation at both sites showed little impact on the seasonal variation of airborne BC concentrations. Potential BC source regions are identified using air mass backward trajectory analysis. At Ranwu, BC was dominated by the air masses from the northeastern India and Bangladesh in both winter and spring, whereas at Beiluhe it was largely contributed by air masses from the south slope of Himalayas in winter, and from the arid region in the north of the TP in spring. The winter and spring seasonal peak of BC in the southern TP is largely contributed by emissions from South Asia, and this seasonal variation is heavily influenced by the regional monsoon. In the northern TP, BC had high concentrations during spring and summer seasons, which is very likely associated with more efficient transport of BC over the arid regions on the north of Tibetan Plateau and in Central Asia. Airborne BC concentrations at the Ranwu sampling site showed a significant diurnal cycle with a peak shortly after sunrise followed by a decrease before noon in both winter and spring, likely shaped by local human activities and the diurnal variation of wind speed. At the Beiluhe sampling site, the diurnal variation of BC is different and less distinct.




Wang, M., Xu, B., Wang, N., Cao, J., Tie, X., Wang, H., … Yang, W. (2016). Two distinct patterns of seasonal variation of airborne black carbon over Tibetan Plateau. Science of the Total Environment, 573, 1041–1052.

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