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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 23 Jan 2019

Research article | 23 Jan 2019

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

Characterizations and source analysis of atmospheric inorganic ions at a national background site in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau: insights into the influence of anthropogenic emissions on a high-altitude area of China

Bin Han1, Jing Wang1, Xueyan Zhao1, Baohui Yin1, Xinhua Wang1, Xiaoyan Dou2, Wen Yang1, and Zhipeng Bai1 Bin Han et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2Qinghai Environmental Monitoring Center, Xining, Qinghai, China

Abstract. Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) imposes highly uncertain impacts on both radiative forcing and human health. While ambient PM has been comprehensively characterized in China’s megacities; its composition, source, and characteristics in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) are not yet fully understood. An autumn observational campaign was conducted during the 1st–15th October 2013 at a national background monitoring station (3295 m a.s.l.) in the QTP. Real time concentrations of inorganic water-soluble ions (WSIs) associated with PM2.5 were measured in addition to PM2.5 concentrations, gaseous pollutants, and meteorological parameters. SO42− was the most abundant WSI (10.00 ± 4.39 μg/m3) followed by NH4+ (2.02 ± 0.93 μg/m3), and NO3 (1.65 ± 0.71 μg/m3). Observed WSI concentrations were lower as compared to urban sites in eastern China; however, they were higher as compared to other QTP monitoring sites. High sulfate and nitrate oxidation ratios indicated strong secondary formation of both SO42− and NO3. Both photochemical and heterogeneous reactions contributed to the formation of particulate SO42−, while the conversion of NO2 to NO3 only occurred via photochemical reactions in the presence of high O3 concentrations and strong sunlight. Correlation analysis between WSIs revealed that NH4NO3, (NH4)2SO4, Na2SO4, and K2SO4 were the major atmospheric aerosol components. To better understand the potential sources of WSIs in the QTP, a Positive Matrix Factorization receptor model was used. Results showed that salt lake emissions, mixed factor emissions (livestock feces emission, occasional biomass burning, and crustal material), traffic emissions, secondary inorganic aerosols, and residential burning were the major emission sources at the study site.

Bin Han et al.
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Bin Han et al.
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Short summary
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) is an ideal location for characterizing aerosol properties. This study investigated the characterizations, formation, and sources of inorganic water-soluble ions associated with autumn PM2.5 at a background site in the QTP. One of our results suggests that the conversion of NO2 to NO3 is only promoted by photochemical reactions in the QTP, while particulate SO42− forms via both photochemical and heterogeneous reactions.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) is an ideal location for characterizing aerosol properties. This...