Articles | Volume 13, issue 9
Research article
02 May 2013
Research article |  | 02 May 2013

Aerosol composition, sources and processes during wintertime in Beijing, China

Y. L. Sun, Z. F. Wang, P. Q. Fu, T. Yang, Q. Jiang, H. B. Dong, J. Li, and J. J. Jia

Abstract. Air pollution is a major environmental concern during all seasons in the megacity of Beijing, China. Here we present the results from a winter study that was conducted from 21 November 2011 to 20 January 2012 with an Aerodyne Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM) and various collocated instruments. The non-refractory submicron aerosol (NR-PM1) species vary dramatically with clean periods and pollution episodes alternating frequently. Compared to summer, wintertime submicron aerosols show much enhanced organics and chloride, which on average account for 52% and 5%, respectively, of the total NR-PM1 mass. All NR-PM1 species show quite different diurnal behaviors between summer and winter. For example, the wintertime nitrate presents a gradual increase during daytime and correlates well with secondary organic aerosol (OA), indicating a dominant role of photochemical production over gas–particle partitioning. Positive matrix factorization was performed on ACSM OA mass spectra, and identified three primary OA (POA) factors, i.e., hydrocarbon-like OA (HOA), cooking OA (COA), and coal combustion OA (CCOA), and one secondary factor, i.e., oxygenated OA (OOA). The POA dominates OA during wintertime, contributing 69%, with the other 31% being SOA. Further, all POA components show pronounced diurnal cycles with the highest concentrations occurring at nighttime. CCOA is the largest primary source during the heating season, on average accounting for 33% of OA and 17% of NR-PM1. CCOA also plays a significant role in chemically resolved particulate matter (PM) pollution as its mass contribution increases linearly as a function of NR-PM1 mass loadings. The SOA, however, presents a reverse trend, which might indicate the limited SOA formation during high PM pollution episodes in winter. The effects of meteorology on PM pollution and aerosol processing were also explored. In particular, the sulfate mass is largely enhanced during periods with high humidity because of fog processing of high concentration of precursor SO2. In addition, the increased traffic-related HOA emission at low temperature is also highlighted.

Final-revised paper