16 Jan 2023
16 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Vertical distribution of black carbon and its mixing state in urban boundary layer in summer

Hang Liu1, Xiaole Pan1, Shandong Lei1,2, Yuting Zhang1,2, Aodong Du1,2, Weijie Yao1,2, Tao Wang1, Jinyuan Xin2,4,5, Jie Li1,2, Yele Sun1,2, Junji Cao4, and Zifa Wang1,2,3 Hang Liu et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China Institute of Urban Meteorology, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, 100089, China
  • 3Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Chinese Academy of Science, Xiamen, 361021, China
  • 4Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 5Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

Abstract. The vertical distribution of black carbon (BC) as well as its mixing state is of great concern due to BC’s strong regional climatic and environmental effects. In this study, vertical measurements were conducted through a moveable container based on a meteorology tower in an urban area. A total of 112 vertical profiles (0–240 m), including the concentrations of BC, O3, NOx and the optical properties of aerosols, were obtained. Based on BC concentration, the vertical profiles could be classified into four categories: uniform, gradual decrease, sharp decrease, and sudden increase. The uniform type indicates strong vertical mixing with similar pollutant concentrations along the vertical direction. The gradual/sharp decrease types indicate stable vertical conditions with higher pollutant concentrations on the ground and lower concentrations at higher altitudes. Due to the strong radiation in summer, the vertical profiles exhibited a clear diurnal variation in which ~80 % of profiles were uniform during the daytime and ~40 %–90 % of profiles were gradual/sharp decrease types at night. O3 is an exception, and its concentration generally increases with height even under strong vertical mixing conditions. The size distribution of BC core varied slightly along the vertical direction, and the coating thickness, denoted by the shell/core ratio (Dp/Dc), of BC increased with height under stable conditions. Although the coating thickness could increase the absorption ability with an average absorption enhancement of 1.25 at 23:00, the vertical difference of Dp/Dc (2 %) was much lower than that of BC concentration (~35 %). The vertical variation of absorption ability was mainly caused by the variation of BC concentration. In addition, O3 and Dp/Dc occasionally increased during 6:00–8:00 but remained stable during 8:00–10:00. Vertical mixing and transportation from upper heights, such as the residual layer, could significantly influence the pollutant properties on the surface during early mornings. This study exhibits a continuous vertical picture of BC and its mixing state in urban areas, which would be helpful for understanding BC’s regional environmental effect.

Hang Liu et al.

Status: open (until 27 Feb 2023)

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Hang Liu et al.


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Short summary
We provide the average vertical profiles of BC concentration, size distribution and coating thickness at different time of the day in urban area based on 112 vertical profiles. In addition, it’s found BC in the residual layer generally owned a thicker coating, higher absorption enhancement and hygroscopicity than on the surface. Such aged BC could enter into the boundary layer and influence the BC properties in the early morning.