Direct observation of aerosol particles in aged agricultural biomass burning plumes impacting urban atmospheres
1Environment Research Institute, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250100, China
2State Key Laboratory of Coal Resources and Safe Mining & College of Geoscience and Surveying Engineering, China University of Mining and Technology, Beijing 100083, China
3School of Earth and Space Exploration and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404, USA
Abstract. Emissions from agricultural biomass burning (ABB) in northern China have a significant impact on the regional and the global climate. According to the Giovanni's Aerosol optical depth (AOD) map, the monthly average AOD at 550 nm in northern China in 2007 shows a maximum value of 0.7 in June, suggesting that episodes of severe aerosol pollution occurred in this region. Aerosol particles were collected in urban Beijing during regional brown hazes from 12 to 30 June, 2007. Transmission electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry characterized the morphology, composition, and mixing state of aerosol particles. Potassium salts (K2SO4 and KNO3), ammonium sulfate, soot, and organic particles predominated in fine particles (diameter <1 μm) collected from 12 to 20 June, 2007. In contrast, from 21 to 30 June, 2007, ammonium sulfate, soot, and organic particles were dominant. Potassium-dominant particles as a tracer of biomass burning, together with wildfire maps, show that intensive regional ABB in northern China from 10 to 20 June, 2007 contributed significantly to the regional haze. After long-range transport, ABB particles exhibited marked changes in their morphology, elemental composition, and mixing state. Heterogeneous reactions completely converted KCl particles from ABB into K2SO4 and KNO3. Soot particles were generally mixed with potassium salts, ammonium salts, and organic particles. In addition, the abundant aged organic particles and soluble salts emitted by ABB become more hygroscopic and increase their size during long-range transport, becoming in effect additional cloud condensation nuclei. The high AOD (average value at 2.2) during 12 to 20 June, 2007, in Beijing is partly explained by the hygroscopic growth of aged fine aerosol particles and by the strong absorption of internally mixed soot particles, both coming from regional ABB emissions.