Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Research article
09 Jan 2017
Research article |  | 09 Jan 2017

Size-selected black carbon mass distributions and mixing state in polluted and clean environments of northern India

Tomi Raatikainen, David Brus, Rakesh K. Hooda, Antti-Pekka Hyvärinen, Eija Asmi, Ved P. Sharma, Antti Arola, and Heikki Lihavainen

Abstract. We have measured black carbon properties by using a size-selected single-particle soot photometer (SP2). The measurements were conducted in northern India at two sites: Gual Pahari is located at the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) and Mukteshwar at the Himalayan foothills. Northern India is known as one of the absorbing aerosol hot spots, but detailed information about absorbing aerosol mixing state is still largely missing. Previous equivalent black carbon (eBC) mass concentration measurements are available for this region, and these are consistent with our observations showing that refractory black carbon (rBC) concentrations are about 10 times higher in Gual Pahari than those at Mukteshwar. Also, the number fraction of rBC-containing particles is higher in Gual Pahari, but individual rBC-containing particles and their size distributions are fairly similar. These findings indicate that particles at both sites have similar local and regional emission sources, but aerosols are also transported from the main source regions (IGP) to the less polluted regions (Himalayan foothills). Detailed examination of the rBC-containing particle properties revealed that they are most likely irregular particles such as fractal aggregates, but the exact structure remains unknown.

Short summary
We have measured black carbon aerosol properties in northern India at two sites: the first site is located at the polluted Indo-Gangetic Plain, while the second site is at the Himalayan foothills in a significantly cleaner environment. The observations show a clear difference in black carbon concentrations, but individual aerosol particles seem to be similar in both sites. Indirect evidence suggests that the particles are highly irregular resembling freshly emitted soot.
Final-revised paper