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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-548
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-548
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  23 Jul 2020

23 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Brown carbon's emission factors and optical characteristics in household biomass burning: Developing a novel algorithm for estimating the contribution of brown carbon

Jianzhong Sun1,2, Guorui Zhi1, Regina Hitzenberger3, Yingjun Chen4, and Chongguo Tian5 Jianzhong Sun et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012, China
  • 2Shangrao Normal University, Shangrao 334001, China
  • 3University of Vienna, Faculty of Physics, Boltzmanngasse 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • 4Shanghai Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Particle Pollution and Prevention (LAP3), Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • 5Key Laboratory of Coastal Environmental Processes and Ecological Remediation, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yantai 264003, China

Abstract. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of brown carbon (BrC) in various fields, particularly relating to climate change. The incomplete combustion of biomass in open and contained burning conditions is believed to be a significant contributor to primary BrC emissions. So far, few studies have reported the emission factors of BrC from biomass burning, and few studies have specifically addressed which form of light absorbing carbon, such as black carbon (BC) or BrC, plays a leading role in the total solar light absorption of biomass burning. In this study, the optical integrating sphere (IS) approach was used, with carbon black and humic acid sodium salt as reference materials for BC and BrC, respectively, to distinguish BrC from BC on the filter samples. Eleven widely used biomass types in China were burned in a typical stove to simulate the real household combustion process. (i) Large differences existed in the emission factors of BrC (EFBrC) among the tested biomass fuels, with a geomean EFBrC of 0.71 g/kg (0.24, 2.18). Both the plant type (herbaceous or ligneous) and burning style (raw or briquetted biomass) might influence the value of EFBrC. (ii) The calculated annual BrC emissions from China's household biomass burning amounted to 712 Gg, higher than the contribution from China's household coal combustion (592 Gg). (iii) The average absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) was (2.46 ± 0.53), much higher than that of coal-chunks combustion smoke (AAE = 1.30 ± 0.32). (iv) For biomass smoke, the contribution of absorption by BrC to the total absorption by BC + BrC across the strongest solar spectral range of 350–850 nm (FBrC) was 50.8 %. This was nearly twice that for BrC in smoke from household coal combustion (26.5 %). (v) Based on this study, a novel algorithm was developed for estimating the FBrC for any combustion sources (FBrC = 0.5519 lnAAE + 0.0067, R2 = 0.999); the FBrC value for global entire biomass burning (open + contained) (FBrC-entire) was 64.5 % (58.5–69.9 %). This corroborates the dominant role of BrC in total biomass burning absorption. Therefore, BrC is not optional but indispensable when considering the climate energy budget, particularly for biomass burning emissions (contained and open).

Jianzhong Sun et al.

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