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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1056
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1056
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Dec 2018

Research article | 17 Dec 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

High time-resolved measurement of stable carbon isotope composition in water-soluble organic aerosols: method optimization and a case study during winter haze in East China

Wenqi Zhang1,2,3, Yan-Lin Zhang1,2,3, Fang Cao1,2,3, Yankun Xiang1,2,3, Yuanyuan Zhang1,2,3, Mengying Bao1,2,3, Xiaoyan Liu1,2,3, and Yu-Chi Lin1,2,3 Wenqi Zhang et al.
  • 1Yale–NUIST Center on Atmospheric Environment, International Joint Laboratory on Climate and Environment Change (ILCEC), Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster, Ministry of Education (KLME)/Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters (CIC-FEMD), Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 3Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Agricultural Meteorology, College of Applied Meteorology, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

Abstract. Water soluble organic carbon (WSOC) is a significant fraction of organic carbon (OC) in atmospheric aerosols. WSOC is of great interest due to its significant effects on atmospheric chemistry, the Earth’s climate and human health. Stable carbon isotope (δ13C) can be used to track the potential sources and investigate atmospheric processes of organic aerosols. In this study, a method of simultaneously measuring the mass concentration and δ13C values of WSOC from aerosol samples is established by coupling the Gas Bench II preparation device with isotopic ratio mass spectrometry. The precision and accuracy of isotope determination is better than 0.17‰ and 0.5‰, respectively, for samples containing carbon larger than 5μg. This method is then applied for the high time-resolution aerosol samples during a severe wintertime haze period in Nanjing, East China. WSOC varies between 3–32μgm−3, whereas δ13C-WSOC ranges from −26.24‰ to −23.35‰. Three different episodes (e.g., namely the Episode 1, the Episode 2, the Episode 3) are identified in the sampling period, showing a different tendency of δ13C-WSOC with the accumulation process of WSOC aerosols. The increases in both the WSOC mass concentrations and the δ13C-WSOC values in the Episode 1 indicate that WSOC is subject to a substantial photochemical aging during the air mass transport. In the Episode 2, the decline of the δ13C-WSOC is accompanied by the increase in the WSOC mass concentrations, which is associated with regional-transported biomass burning emissions. In the Episode 3, heavier isotope (13C) is exclusively enriched in total carbon (TC) compares to WSOC aerosols. This suggests that water-insoluble carbon may contain 13C-enriched components such as dust carbonate which is supported by the enhanced Ca2+ concentrations and air mass trajectories analysis. The present study provides a novel method to determine stable carbon isotope composition of WSOC and it offers a great potential to better understand the source emission, the atmospheric aging and the secondary production of water soluble organic aerosols.

Wenqi Zhang et al.
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A novel method to determine the concentration and the isotope of WSOC in aerosols is established and applied in the analysis of a serve haze in East China. The results show that the studied site is affected by the photochemical aging, biomass burning and dust aerosols in different episodes during the sampling period. The analysis of WSOC and its isotopes offers a great potential to better understand the source emission, the atmospheric aging and the secondary production of WSOC.
A novel method to determine the concentration and the isotope of WSOC in aerosols is established...
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