Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (2020-12-01)

Measurement report: Source and mixing state of black carbon aerosol in the North China Plain: implications for radiative effect

  • Q. Wang,
  • Q. Wang,
  • L. Li,
  • J. Zhou,
  • J. Ye,
  • W. Dai,
  • H. Liu,
  • Y. Zhang,
  • R. Zhang,
  • R. Zhang,
  • J. Tian,
  • Y. Chen,
  • Y. Wu,
  • W. Ran,
  • J. Cao,
  • J. Cao

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20
pp. 15427 – 15442


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Establishment of the sources and mixing state of black carbon (BC) aerosol is essential for assessing its impact on air quality and climatic effects. A winter campaign (December 2017–January 2018) was performed in the North China Plain (NCP) to evaluate the sources, coating composition, and radiative effects of BC under the background of emission reduction. Results showed that the sources of liquid fossil fuels (i.e., traffic emissions) and solid fuels (i.e., biomass and coal burning) contributed 69 % and 31 % to the total equivalent BC (eBC) mass, respectively. These values were arrived at by using a combination of multi-wavelength optical approach with the source-based aerosol absorption Ångström exponent values. The air quality model indicated that local emissions were the dominant contributors to BC at the measurement site. However, regional emissions from NCP were a critical factor for high BC pollution. A single-particle aerosol mass spectrometer identified six classes of elemental carbon (EC)-containing particles. They included EC coated by organic carbon and sulfate (52 % of total EC-containing particles); EC coated by Na and K (24 %); EC coated by K, sulfate, and nitrate (17 %); EC associated with biomass burning (6 %); pure-EC (1 %); and others (1 %). Different BC sources exhibited distinct impacts on the EC-containing particles. A radiative transfer model showed that the amount of detected eBC can produce an atmospheric direct radiative effect of +18.0 W m−2 and a heating rate of 0.5 K d−1. This study shows that reductions of solid fuel combustion-related BC may be an effective way of mitigating regional warming in the NCP.