Articles | Volume 11, issue 15
Research article
04 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 04 Aug 2011

Carbonaceous species in PM2.5 at a pair of rural/urban sites in Beijing, 2005–2008

F. Yang, L. Huang, F. Duan, W. Zhang, K. He, Y. Ma, J. R. Brook, J. Tan, Q. Zhao, and Y. Cheng

Abstract. One-week integrated PM2.5 samples were collected over four years (2005–2008) at a pair of sites, one rural and one urban site, in the area of Beijing, China. Weekly organic and elemental carbon (OC and EC) concentrations from these samples were measured to investigate their atmospheric concentrations, temporal variation patterns and the factors influencing these aspects. A slightly systematic decrease in annual mean concentration of OC and an opposite trend for EC at both sites was observed. Since OC accounted for about 70 % of total carbon (TC, i.e. OC + EC) the total carbonaceous mass experienced a slight decline on a yearly basis over the study period. Its fraction of PM2.5 mass at the urban site in 2008 was significantly lower than observed 10 years earlier (1999), indicating that the relative importance of carbonaceous species in PM2.5 has decreased. In urban Beijing clear seasonal variations (by factors of 1.35 ~ 3.0) were shown in both OC and EC with higher weekly concentrations and fluctuations in winter and much lower values in summer and spring. The minimum seasonal urban excesses of OC (3.0 μg m−3) and EC (1.3 μg m−3) occurred in the summer of 2008, which were only one-ninth and one-seventh of their corresponding maximum values, respectively. This reduction in the urban-difference, coupled with more positive stable carbon isotope values of EC at the urban site in that summer relative to the preceding summers, supports that the special clean air campaign for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games very likely had noticeable impact on the ambient concentrations of carbonaceous aerosols in the Beijing area, particularly on the local urban scale. Less consistent seasonal patterns in OC and EC, their scattered correlation, and higher mass ratios of OC to EC (OC/EC) at the rural site indicate more complex and variable major sources regarding aerosol formation in the rural area. These emission sources include biomass burning during the harvest seasons, widely used high-polluting family stoves and small boilers for cooking and heating with high OC/EC ratios, and a greater relative quantity of secondary organic aerosols.

Final-revised paper