Atmospheric aerosol compositions and sources at two national background sites in northern and southern China
- 1Key Laboratory for Urban Habitat Environmental Science and Technology, School of Environment and Energy, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, Shenzhen, 518055, China
- 2State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China
- anow at: John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Abstract. Although China's severe air pollution has become a focus in the field of atmospheric chemistry and the mechanisms of urban air pollution there have been researched extensively, few field sampling campaigns have been conducted at remote background sites in China, where air pollution characteristics on a larger scale are highlighted. In this study, an Aerodyne high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS), together with an Aethalometer, was deployed at two of China's national background sites in northern (Lake Hongze site; 33.23° N, 118.33° E; altitude 21 m) and southern (Mount Wuzhi site; 18.84° N, 109.49° E; altitude 958 m) China in the spring seasons in 2011 and 2015, respectively, in order to characterize submicron aerosol composition and sources. The campaign-average PM1 concentration was 36.8 ± 19.8 µg m−3 at the northern China background (NCB) site, which was far higher than that at the southern China background (SCB) site (10.9 ± 7.8 µg m−3). Organic aerosol (OA) (27.2 %), nitrate (26.7 %), and sulfate (22.0 %) contributed the most to the PM1 mass at NCB, while OA (43.5 %) and sulfate (30.5 %) were the most abundant components of the PM1 mass at SCB, where nitrate only constituted a small fraction (4.7 %) and might have contained a significant amount of organic nitrates (5–11 %). The aerosol size distributions and organic aerosol elemental compositions all indicated very aged aerosol particles at both sites. The OA at SCB was more oxidized with a higher average oxygen to carbon (O ∕ C) ratio (0.98) than that at NCB (0.67). Positive matrix factorization (PMF) analysis was used to classify OA into three components, including a hydrocarbon-like component (HOA, attributed to fossil fuel combustion) and two oxygenated components (OOA1 and OOA2, attributed to secondary organic aerosols from different source areas) at NCB. PMF analysis at SCB identified a semi-volatile oxygenated component (SV-OOA) and a low-volatility oxygenated component (LV-OOA), both of which were found to be secondary species and could be formed from precursors co-emitted with BC. Using the total potential source contribution function model, the likely source areas of the major PM1 components at both sites were a on large regional scale in East Asia. The possible sources may include not only emissions from the Chinese mainland but also emissions from ocean-going cargo ships and biomass burning in neighboring countries.