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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  22 Jun 2020

22 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Measurement report: Dual-carbon isotopic characterization of carbonaceous aerosol in Beijing and Xi'an: distinctions in primary versus secondary sources

Haiyan Ni1,2, Ru-Jin Huang1,3, Max M. Cosijn2, Lu Yang1, Jie Guo1, Junji Cao1, and Ulrike Dusek2 Haiyan Ni et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, 710061, China
  • 2Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), University of Groningen, Groningen, 9747 AG, the Netherlands
  • 3Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, 710049, China

Abstract. To mitigate haze pollution in China, a better understanding of the sources of carbonaceous aerosols is required due to the complexity in multiple emissions and atmospheric processes. Here we combined the analysis of radiocarbon and the stable isotope 13C to investigate the sources and formation of carbonaceous aerosols collected in two Chinese megacities (Beijing and Xi’an) during severe haze events of “red alarm” level from December 2016 to January 2017. In Xi’an, liquid fossil fuel combustion was the dominant source of elemental carbon (EC; 44 %–57 %), followed by biomass burning (25 %–29 %) and coal combustion (17 %–29 %). In Beijing, coal combustion contributed 45%–61% of EC and biomass burning (17 %–24 %) and liquid fossil fuel combustion (22 %–33 %) contributed less. Non-fossil sources contributed 51 %–56 % of organic carbon (OC) in Xi’an and fossil sources contributed 63 %–69 % of OC in Beijing. Secondary OC (SOC) was largely contributed by non-fossil sources in Xi’an (56 ± 6 %) and by fossil sources in Beijing (75 ± 10 %), especially during haze periods. The fossil vs. non-fossil contributions to OC and EC did not change drastically during haze events in both Xi’an and Beijing. However, compared to clean periods, the contribution of coal combustion to EC during haze periods increased in Xi’an and decreased in Beijing. During clean periods, primary OC from biomass burning and fossil sources constituted ~ 70 % of OC in Xi’an and ~ 53 % of OC in Beijing. From clean to haze periods, the contribution of SOC to total OC increased in Xi’an, but decreased in Beijing, suggesting that contribution of secondary organic aerosol formation to increased OC during haze periods was more efficient in Xi’an than in Beijing. In Beijing, the high SOC fraction in total OC during clean periods was mainly due to elevated contribution from non-fossil SOC. In Xi’an, a slight day-night difference was observed during clean period, with enhanced fossil contributions to OC and EC during the day. This day-night difference was negligible during severe haze periods, likely due to enhanced accumulation of pollutants under stagnant weather conditions.

Haiyan Ni et al.

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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We investigated sources of carbonaceous aerosols in Beijing and Xi'an during severe winter haze. EC was dominated by vehicle emissions in Xi’an and by coal burning in Beijing. OC increment during haze days was driven by the increase of both primary and secondary OC (SOC). SOC was more fossil in Beijing and less fossil in Xi’an, especially during haze days. In Xi’an, no strong day-night differences in EC and OC sources during haze days suggests a large accumulation of particles.
We investigated sources of carbonaceous aerosols in Beijing and Xi'an during severe winter haze....