Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Research article
01 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 01 Mar 2011

Characterization of submicron aerosols at a rural site in Pearl River Delta of China using an Aerodyne High-Resolution Aerosol Mass Spectrometer

X.-F. Huang, L.-Y. He, M. Hu, M. R. Canagaratna, J. H. Kroll, N. L. Ng, Y.-H. Zhang, Y. Lin, L. Xue, T.-L. Sun, X.-G. Liu, M. Shao, J. T. Jayne, and D. R. Worsnop

Abstract. The Pearl River Delta (PRD) region in South China is one of the most economically developed regions in China, but it is also noted for its severe air pollution due to industrial/metropolitan emissions. In order to continuously improve the understanding and quantification of air pollution in this region, an intensive campaign was executed in PRD during October–November 2008. Here, we report and analyze Aerodyne High-Resolution Aerosol Mass Spectrometer measurements at Kaiping, a rural site downwind of the highly-polluted central PRD area, to characterize the general features of submicron particulate pollution in the regional air. The mean measured PMsub>1 mass concentration was 33.1±18.1 μg m−3 during the campaign and composed of organic matter (33.8%), sulfate (33.7%), ammonium (14.0%), nitrate (10.7%), black carbon (6.7%), and chloride (1.1%), which is characterized by high fractions of inorganic ions due to huge emissions of SO2 and NOx in PRD. The average size distributions of the species (except BC) were all dominated by an accumulation mode peaking at ~450 nm in vacuum aerodynamic diameter. Calculations based on high-resolution organic mass spectra indicate that C, H, O, and N on average contributed 56.6, 7.0, 35.1, and 1.3% to the total organic mass, respectively, corresponding to an organic matter mass to organic carbon mass ratio (OM/OC) of 1.77±0.08. Based on the high-resolution organic mass spectral dataset observed, Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) analysis differentiated the organic aerosol into three components, i.e., biomass burning (BBOA) and two oxygenated (LV-OOA and SV-OOA) organic aerosols, which on average accounted for 24.5, 39.6 and 35.8% of the total organic mass, respectively. The BBOA showed strong features of biomass burning emissions and has been mainly attributed to the open field burning of crop residues after the harvest in PRD rural areas. The LV-OOA and SV-OOA were found to correspond to more aged (and thus less-volatile) and fresher (and semi-volatile) secondary organic aerosol (SOA), respectively. Analysis of meteorological influence supported that regional transport from the central PRD area was the major origin of the PM1 observed at the Kaiping site.

Final-revised paper