10 Feb 2023
 | 10 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

High contribution of anthropogenic combustion sources to atmospheric inorganic reactive nitrogen in South China evidenced by isotopes

Tingting Li, Jun Li, Zeyu Sun, Hongxing Jiang, Chongguo Tian, and Gan Zhang

Abstract. Due to the intense release of reactive nitrogen (Nr) from anthropogenic activity, the source layout of atmospheric nitrogen aerosol has changed. The inorganic nitrogen (NH4+ and NO3-) was essential part of atmospheric nitrogen aerosol and accounted for 69 %. To comprehensively clarify the level, sources, and environmental fate of NH4+ and NO3-, their concentrations and stable isotopes (δ15N) in fine particulate matters (PM2.5) were measured in a subtropical megacity of South China. N-NH4+ and N-NO3- contributed 45.8 % and 23.2 % to total nitrogen (TN), respectively. The source contributions of NH4+ and NO3- were estimated by δ15N, which suggested that anthropogenic combustion activities including coal combustion, biomass burning, and vehicles were dominant sources. Especially, biomass burning was the predominant source of NH4+ (27.9 %). Whereas, coal combustion was the dominant source of NO3- (40.4 %). This study emphasized the substantial impacts of human activities on inorganic Nr. With the rapid development of industry and transportation, nitrogen emissions will be even higher. The promotion of clean energy and efficient use of biomass would help reduce nitrogen emissions and alleviate air pollution.

Tingting Li et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2023-49', Xueyan Liu, 23 Feb 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2023-49', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Feb 2023

Tingting Li et al.

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High contribution of anthropogenic combustion sources to atmospheric inorganic reactive nitrogen in south China evidenced by isotopes Tingting Li and Jun Li

Tingting Li et al.


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Short summary
N-NH4+ and N-NO3- were vital components in nitrogenous aerosols and contributed 69 % to total nitrogen in PM2.5. Coal combustion was still the most important source of urban atmospheric NO3-. However, the non-agriculture sources play an increasingly important role in NH4+ emission.