Inter-comparison of source apportionment models for the estimation of wood burning aerosols during wintertime in an Alpine city (Grenoble, France)
Abstract. The emission of organic aerosols (OA) in the ambient air by residential wood burning is nowadays a subject of great scientific concern and a growing number of studies aim at apportioning the influence of such emissions on urban air quality. In the present study, results obtained using two commonly-used source apportionment models, i.e., Chemical Mass Balance (CMB, performed with off-line filter measurements) and Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF, applied to Aerosol Mass Spectrometer measurements), as well as using the recently-proposed Aethalometer model (based on the measurement of the aerosol light absorption at different wavelengths) are inter-compared. This work is performed using field data obtained during the winter season (14 to 29 January 2009) at an urban background site of a French Alpine city (Grenoble). Converging results from the different models indicate a major contribution of wood burning organic aerosols (OMwb) to the ambient aerosol organic fraction, with mean OMwb contributions to total OA of 68%, 61% and 37% for the CMB, the Aethalometer and the AMS-PMF models respectively, during the period when the three modelling studies overlapped (12 days). Quantitative discrepancies might notably be due to the overestimation of OMwb calculated by the CMB due to the loss of semi-volatile compounds from sources to receptor site, as well as to the accounting of oxidized primary wood burning organic (OPOAwb) aerosols within the Oxygenated Organic Aerosol (OOA) PMF-factor. This OOA factor accounts on average for about 50% of total OM, while non-combustion sources contribute to about 25% and 28% of total OM according to the CMB and Aethalometer models respectively. Each model suggests a mean contribution of fossil fuel emissions to total OM of about 10%. A good agreement is also obtained for the source apportionment of elemental carbon (EC) by both the CMB and the Aethalometer models, with fossil fuel emissions representing on average more than 80% of total EC.