Articles | Volume 17, issue 19
Research article
10 Oct 2017
Research article |  | 10 Oct 2017

Source attribution of Arctic black carbon constrained by aircraft and surface measurements

Jun-Wei Xu, Randall V. Martin, Andrew Morrow, Sangeeta Sharma, Lin Huang, W. Richard Leaitch, Julia Burkart, Hannes Schulz, Marco Zanatta, Megan D. Willis, Daven K. Henze, Colin J. Lee, Andreas B. Herber, and Jonathan P. D. Abbatt

Abstract. Black carbon (BC) contributes to Arctic warming, yet sources of Arctic BC and their geographic contributions remain uncertain. We interpret a series of recent airborne (NETCARE 2015; PAMARCMiP 2009 and 2011 campaigns) and ground-based measurements (at Alert, Barrow and Ny-Ålesund) from multiple methods (thermal, laser incandescence and light absorption) with the GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model and its adjoint to attribute the sources of Arctic BC. This is the first comparison with a chemical transport model of refractory BC (rBC) measurements at Alert. The springtime airborne measurements performed by the NETCARE campaign in 2015 and the PAMARCMiP campaigns in 2009 and 2011 offer BC vertical profiles extending to above 6 km across the Arctic and include profiles above Arctic ground monitoring stations. Our simulations with the addition of seasonally varying domestic heating and of gas flaring emissions are consistent with ground-based measurements of BC concentrations at Alert and Barrow in winter and spring (rRMSE  < 13 %) and with airborne measurements of the BC vertical profile across the Arctic (rRMSE  = 17 %) except for an underestimation in the middle troposphere (500–700 hPa).

Sensitivity simulations suggest that anthropogenic emissions in eastern and southern Asia have the largest effect on the Arctic BC column burden both in spring (56 %) and annually (37 %), with the largest contribution in the middle troposphere (400–700 hPa). Anthropogenic emissions from northern Asia contribute considerable BC (27 % in spring and 43 % annually) to the lower troposphere (below 900 hPa). Biomass burning contributes 20 % to the Arctic BC column annually.

At the Arctic surface, anthropogenic emissions from northern Asia (40–45 %) and eastern and southern Asia (20–40 %) are the largest BC contributors in winter and spring, followed by Europe (16–36 %). Biomass burning from North America is the most important contributor to all stations in summer, especially at Barrow.

Our adjoint simulations indicate pronounced spatial heterogeneity in the contribution of emissions to the Arctic BC column concentrations, with noteworthy contributions from emissions in eastern China (15 %) and western Siberia (6.5 %). Although uncertain, gas flaring emissions from oilfields in western Siberia could have a striking impact (13 %) on Arctic BC loadings in January, comparable to the total influence of continental Europe and North America (6.5 % each in January). Emissions from as far as the Indo-Gangetic Plain could have a substantial influence (6.3 % annually) on Arctic BC as well.

Short summary
We interpret a series of recent airborne and ground-based measurements with the GEOS-Chem model and its adjoint to attribute the sources of Arctic BC. Anthropogenic emissions in eastern and southern Asia make the largest contribution to Arctic BC. Gas flaring emissions from oilfields in western Siberia and from the Tarim oilfield in western China could have striking impacts on Arctic BC loadings.
Final-revised paper