Received: 28 Feb 2013 – Accepted for review: 08 May 2013 – Discussion started: 23 May 2013
Abstract. Water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) is a major component of carbonaceous aerosols. However, the detailed information of WSOC origins is still unclear. In the current study, fine particles (PM2.5) were collected at one sub-urban and two rural sites in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, south China during fall–winter 2008 to measure WSOC and organic tracers of biomass burning (BB) and secondary organic aerosols (SOA) from isoprene, monoterpenes, β-caryophyllene, aromatics and 2-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). WSOC concentrations ranged from 7.63 to 11.5 μg C m−3 and accounted for 38.8–57.9% of organic carbon (OC). Both WSOC and water-insoluble organic carbon (WIOC) exhibited higher levels at the sub-urban site than the rural sites. Subtracting BB-derived WSOC (WSOCBB) from measured WSOC, secondary OC (SOC) and primary OC (POC) were estimated that POC exhibited dominance over SOC and contributed 68–79% to OC. Significant correlation between WSOC and EC was observed, suggesting that BB could have important contributions to ambient WSOC in the PRD region during fall–winter. Organic tracers were applied to do source apportionment of WSOC, which further confirmed that BB was the dominant contributor, accounting for 42–47% of measured WSOC. SOC estimated by SOA tracers totally contributed 22–40% of WSOC, among which anthropogenic SOC (sum of aromatics and 2-ring PAHs, 18–25%) exhibited dominance over biogenic SOC (sum of isoprene, monoterpenes and β-caryophyllene, 4–15%). The unexplained WSOC (18–31%) showed a positive correlation with POC, indicating that this portion might be associated with POC aging.
How to cite. Ding, X., Wang, X.-M., He, Q.-F., Fu, X.-X., and Gao, B.: Water-soluble organic carbon over the Pearl River Delta region during fall–winter: spatial variations and source apportionment, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 13773–13798, https://doi.org/10.5194/acpd-13-13773-2013, 2013.