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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-130
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Apr 2018

Research article | 05 Apr 2018

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

Source apportionment of carbonaceous aerosols in Xi’an, China: insights from a full year of measurements of radiocarbon and the stable isotope 13C

Haiyan Ni1,2,3,4, Ru-Jin Huang2,3, Junji Cao3,5, Ting Zhang3, Meng Wang3, Harro A. J. Meijer1, and Ulrike Dusek1 Haiyan Ni et al.
  • 1Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), University of Groningen, Groningen, 9747 AG, the Netherlands
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology (SKLLQG), Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, 710061, China
  • 3Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry & Physics (KLACP), Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, 710061, China
  • 4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
  • 5Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China

Abstract. Sources of organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) in Xi’an, China are investigated based on one-year radiocarbon and stable carbon isotope measurements. The radiocarbon results demonstrate that EC is dominated by fossil sources throughout the year, with a mean contribution of 83±5% (7±2µgm−3). The remaining 17±5% (1.5±1µgm−3) is attributed to biomass burning, with higher contribution in the winter (~24%) compared to the summer (~14%). Stable carbon isotopes of EC (δ13CEC) are enriched in winter (−23.20±0.35‰) and depleted in summer (−25.94±0.46‰), indicating the influence of coal combustion in winter and liquid fossil fuel combustion in summer. By combining radiocarbon and stable carbon signatures, relative contributions from coal combustion and liquid fossil fuel combustion are estimated as 45% (29–58%, interquartile range) and 31% (18–46%) in winter, respectively, whereas in other seasons more than one half of EC are from liquid fossil combustion. In contrast with EC, the contribution of non-fossil sources to OC is much larger, with an annual average of 54±8% (12±10µgm−3). Clear seasonal variations are seen in OC concentrations both from fossil and non-fossil sources, with maxima in winter and minima in summer, because of unfavourable meteorological conditions coupled with enhanced fossil and non-fossil activities in winter, mainly biomass burning and domestic coal burning. δ13COC exhibited similar values with δ13CEC, and showed strong correlations (r2=0.90) in summer and autumn, indicating similar source mixtures with EC. In spring, δ13COC is depleted (1.1–2.4‰) compared to δ13CEC, indicating the importance of secondary formation of OC (e.g., from volatile organic compound precursors) in addition to primary sources. Modelled mass concentrations and source contributions of primary OC are compared to the measured mass and source contributions. There is strong evidence that both secondary formation and photochemical loss processes influence the final OC concentrations.

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Short summary
Seasonal changes in sources of organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) in Xi’an, China are investigated based on radiocarbon and stable carbon isotope measurements. Relative contributions to EC from biomass burning, coal combustion and liquid fossil fuel combustion change substantially between different seasons. Biomass burning contributes 60 % to the EC increment in winter. Crop residue burning gives significant contributions to non-fossil EC in the summer at the urban site in Xi’an.
Seasonal changes in sources of organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) in Xi’an, China...
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