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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.

Submitted as: research article 26 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 26 Aug 2019

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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).

The characteristics of atmospheric brown carbon in Xi'an, inland China: sources, size distributions and optical properties

Can Wu1,2, Gehui Wang1,2,3,4, Jin Li2, Jianjun Li2, Cong Cao2, Shuangshuang Ge1, Yuning Xie1, Jianmin Chen3,5, Xingru Li1,6, Guoyan Xue1, Xinpei Wang1, Zhuyu Zhao7, and Fang Cao7 Can Wu et al.
  • 1Key Lab of Geographic Information Science of the Ministry of Education, School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 210062, China
  • 2Key Lab of Aerosol Physics and Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China
  • 3Institute of Eco-Chongming, 3663 North Zhongshan Road, Shanghai 200062, China
  • 4CAS Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 5Department of Environmental Science and Technology, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • 6Department of Chemistry, Analytical and Testing Center, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China
  • 7Yale-NUIST Center on Atmospheric Environment, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

Abstract. To investigate the characteristic of atmospheric brown carbon (BrC) in the semi-arid region of East Asia, PM2.5 and size-resolved particles in the urban atmosphere of Xi'an, inland China during the winter and summer of 2017 were collected and analyzed for optical properties and chemical compositions. Methanol extracts (MeOH-extracts) were more light-absorbing than water extracts (H2O- extracts) in the optical wavelength of 300–600 nm, and well correlated with nitrophenols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and oxygenated PAHs (R2 > 0.6). The light absorptions (absλ=365nm) of H2O- extracts and MeOH-extracts in winter were 28 ± 16 M/m and 49 ± 32 M/m, respectively, which are about 10 times higher than those in summer, mainly due to the enhanced emissions from biomass burning for house heating. Water extracted BrC predominately occurred in the fine mode (< 2.1 µm) during winter and summer, accounting for 81 % and 65 % of the total absorption of BrC, respectively. The light absorption and stable carbon isotope composition measurements showed an increasing ratio of absλ=365nm-MeOH to absλ=550nm-EC along with an enrichment of 13C in PM2.5 during the haze development, indicating an accumulation of secondarily formed BrC (e.g., nitrophenols) in aerosol aging process. PMF analysis showed that biomass burning, fossil fuel combustion, secondary formation, and, fugitive dust are the major sources of BrC in the city, accounting for 54.7 %, 19 %, 16.2 %, and 10 % of the total BrC, respectively.

Can Wu et al.
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Can Wu et al.
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Short summary
Brown carbon (BrC), as an important component of aerosol, has attracted wide attentions in recent years, yet, very limited information on the size differences is available. This paper reveals that BrC presented a bimodal pattern and mainly derived from biomass burning in an interior city of China. Our results are very helpful for readers to comprehensively understand the features of brown carbon in China.
Brown carbon (BrC), as an important component of aerosol, has attracted wide attentions in...