Journal article

Diurnal variations of organic molecular tracers and stable carbon isotopic composition in atmospheric aerosols over Mt. Tai in the North China Plain: An influence of biomass burning

Fu P, Kawamura K, Chen J, Li J, Sun Y, Liu Y, Tachibana E, Aggarwal S, Okuzawa K, Tanimoto H, Kanaya Y, Wang Z ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 12, issue 18 (2012) pp. 8359-8375

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Organic tracer compounds, as well as organic carbon (OC), elemental
carbon (EC), water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC), and stable carbon
isotope ratios (delta C-13) of total carbon (TC) have been investigated
in aerosol samples collected during early and late periods of the Mount
Tai eXperiment 2006 (MTX2006) field campaign in the North China Plain.
Total solvent-extractable fractions were investigated by gas
chromatography/mass spectrometry. More than 130 organic compounds were
detected in the aerosol samples. They were grouped into twelve organic
compound classes, including biomass burning tracers, biogenic primary
sugars, biogenic secondary organic aerosol (SOA) tracers, and
anthropogenic tracers such as phthalates, hopanes and polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In early June when the field burning
activities of wheat straws in the North China Plain were very active,
the total identified organics (2090 +/- 1170 ng m(-3)) were double those
in late June (926 +/- 574 ng m(-3)). All the compound classes were more
abundant in early June than in late June, except phthalate esters, which
were higher in late June. Levoglucosan (88-1210 ng m(-3), mean 403 ng
m(-3)) was found as the most abundant single compound in early June,
while diisobutyl phthalate was the predominant species in late June.
During the biomass-burning period in early June, the diurnal trends of
most of the primary and secondary organic aerosol tracers were
characterized by the concentration peaks observed at mid-night or in
early morning, while in late June most of the organic species peaked in
late afternoon. This suggests that smoke plumes from biomass burning can
uplift the aerosol particulate matter to a certain altitude, which could
be further transported to and encountered the summit of Mt. Tai during
nighttime. On the basis of the tracer-based method for the estimation of
biomass-burning OC, fungal-spore OC and biogenic secondary organic
carbon (SOC), we estimate that an average of 24% (up to 64 %) of the
OC in the Mt. Tai aerosols was due to biomass burning in early June,
followed by the contribution of isoprene SOC (mean 4.3 %). In contrast,
isoprene SOC was the main contributor (6.6 %) to OC, and only 3.0% of
the OC was due to biomass burning in late June. In early June, delta
C-13 of TC (-26.6 to -23.2 %, mean -25.0 %) were lower than those
(-23.9 to -21.9 %, mean -22.9 %) in late June. In addition, a strong
anti-correlation was found between levoglucosan and delta C-13 values.
This study demonstrates that crop-residue burning activities can
significantly enhance the organic aerosol loading and alter the organic
composition and stable carbon isotopic composition of aerosol particles
in the troposphere over the North China Plain.

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  • Qi ZhangUniversity of California - Davis

  • P. Q. Fu

  • K. Kawamura

  • J. Chen

  • J. Li

  • Y. Liu

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