Articles | Volume 13, issue 9
Research article
07 May 2013
Research article |  | 07 May 2013

Mixing state of individual submicron carbon-containing particles during spring and fall seasons in urban Guangzhou, China: a case study

G. Zhang, X. Bi, L. Li, L. Y. Chan, M. Li, X. Wang, G. Sheng, J. Fu, and Z. Zhou

Abstract. Growing evidence suggests that the size-resolved mixing state of carbon-containing particles is very critical in determining their optical properties, atmospheric lifetime, and impact on the environment. However, still little is known about the mixing state of particles in the urban area of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, China. To investigate the mixing state of submicron carbon-containing particles, measurements were carried out during spring and fall periods of 2010 using a single-particle aerosol mass spectrometer (SPAMS). Approximately 700 000 particles for each period were detected. This is the first report on the size-resolved mixing state of carbon-containing particles by direct observations in the PRD region. Cluster analysis of single-particle mass spectra was applied to identify carbon-containing particle classes. These classes represented ~80% and ~90% of all the detected particles for spring and fall periods, respectively. Carbon-containing particle classes mainly consisted of biomass/biofuel burning particles (Biomass), organic carbon (OC), fresh elemental carbon (EC-fresh), internally mixed OC and EC (ECOC), internally mixed EC with sulfate (EC-Sulfate), vanadium-containing ECOC (V-ECOC), and amines-containing particles (Amine). In spring, the top three ranked carbon-containing particle classes were ECOC (26.1%), Biomass (23.6%) and OC (10%), respectively. However, the fraction of Biomass particles increased remarkably and predominated (61.0%), while the fraction of ECOC (3.0%) and V-ECOC (0.1%) significantly decreased in fall. To highlight the influence of monsoon on the properties of carbon-containing particles in urban Guangzhou, their size distributions, mixing state, and aerosol acidity were compared between spring and fall seasons. In addition, a case study was also performed to investigate how the formation of fog and haze influenced the mixing state of carbon-containing particles. These results could improve our understanding of the mixing state of carbon-containing particles, and may also be helpful in modeling the climate forcing of aerosol in the PRD region.

Final-revised paper