Articles | Volume 15, issue 4
Research article
24 Feb 2015
Research article |  | 24 Feb 2015

Effect of biomass burning over the western North Pacific Rim: wintertime maxima of anhydrosugars in ambient aerosols from Okinawa

C. Zhu, K. Kawamura, and B. Kunwar

Abstract. Biomass burning (BB) largely modifies the chemical composition of atmospheric aerosols on the globe. We collected aerosol samples (TSP) at Cape Hedo, on subtropical Okinawa Island, from October 2009 to February 2012 to study anhydrosugars as BB tracers. Levoglucosan was detected as the dominant anhydrosugar followed by its isomers, mannosan and galactosan. We found a clear seasonal trend of levoglucosan and mannosan with winter maxima and summer minima. Positive correlation was found between levoglucosan and nss-K+ (r = 0.38, p < 0.001); the latter is another BB tracer. The analyses of air mass trajectories and fire spots demonstrated that the seasonal variations of anhydrosugars are caused by long-range transport of BB emissions from the Asian continent. We found winter maxima of anhydrosugars, which may be associated with open burning and domestic heating and cooking in northern and northeastern China, Mongolia and Russia and with the enhanced westerly winds. The monthly averaged levoglucosan / mannosan ratios were lower (2.1–4.8) in May–June and higher (13.3–13.9) in November–December. The lower values may be associated with softwood burning in northern China, Korea and southwestern Japan whereas the higher values are probably caused by agricultural waste burning of maize straw in the North China Plain. Anhydrosugars comprised 0.22% of water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) and 0.13% of organic carbon (OC). The highest values to WSOC (0.37%) and OC (0.25%) were found in winter, again indicating an important BB contribution to Okinawa aerosols in winter. This study provides useful information to better understand the effect of East Asian biomass burning on the air quality in the western North Pacific Rim.

Short summary
Using levoglucosan as a biomass burning tracer, influence of biomass burning on the air quality of Okinawa Island in the western North Pacific Rim was evaluated. High levels of levoglucosan were found in the atmospheric aerosols during winter probably due to the open burning and domestic heating and cooking in north/northeast China, Mongolia and Russia, together with enhanced continental outflow.
Final-revised paper