Articles | Volume 13, issue 14
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 7053–7074, 2013

Special issue: Atmospheric impacts of Eastern Asia megacities

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 7053–7074, 2013

Research article 25 Jul 2013

Research article | 25 Jul 2013

Chemical characterization and source apportionment of PM2.5 in Beijing: seasonal perspective

R. Zhang1,*, J. Jing1,2,*, J. Tao3,*, S.-C. Hsu4,*, G. Wang5, J. Cao5, C. S. L. Lee6, L. Zhu3, Z. Chen7, Y. Zhao7, and Z. Shen8 R. Zhang et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Regional Climate-Environment Research for Temperate East Asia, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2Meteorological Observation Center of CMA, Beijing, China
  • 3South China Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Guangzhou, China
  • 4Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 5K~LAST, SKLLQG, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
  • 6Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 7ESPC, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • 8Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. In this study, 121 daily PM2.5 (aerosol particle with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm) samples were collected from an urban site in Beijing in four months between April 2009 and January 2010 representing the four seasons. The samples were determined for various compositions, including elements, ions, and organic/elemental carbon. Various approaches, such as chemical mass balance, positive matrix factorization (PMF), trajectory clustering, and potential source contribution function (PSCF), were employed for characterizing aerosol speciation, identifying likely sources, and apportioning contributions from each likely source. Our results have shown distinctive seasonality for various aerosol speciations associated with PM2.5 in Beijing. Soil dust waxes in the spring and wanes in the summer. Regarding the secondary aerosol components, inorganic and organic species may behave in different manners. The former preferentially forms in the hot and humid summer via photochemical reactions, although their precursor gases, such as SO2 and NOx, are emitted much more in winter. The latter seems to favorably form in the cold and dry winter. Synoptic meteorological and climate conditions can overwhelm the emission pattern in the formation of secondary aerosols. The PMF model identified six main sources: soil dust, coal combustion, biomass burning, traffic and waste incineration emission, industrial pollution, and secondary inorganic aerosol. Each of these sources has an annual mean contribution of 16, 14, 13, 3, 28, and 26%, respectively, to PM2.5. However, the relative contributions of these identified sources significantly vary with changing seasons. The results of trajectory clustering and the PSCF method demonstrated that regional sources could be crucial contributors to PM pollution in Beijing. In conclusion, we have unraveled some complex aspects of the pollution sources and formation processes of PM2.5 in Beijing. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic study that comprehensively explores the chemical characterizations and source apportionments of PM2.5 aerosol speciation in Beijing by applying multiple approaches based on a completely seasonal perspective.

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