Seasonality of carbonaceous aerosol composition and light absorption properties in Karachi, Pakistan

Tao Pu , Pengfei Chen , Shichang Kang , Chaman Gul , Lekhendra Tripathee , Xiaoxiang Wang , Zhaofu Hu , Chaoliu Li


Received September 05, 2019,Revised , Accepted December 12, 2019, Available online December 28, 2019

Volume 32,2020,Pages 286-296

Characteristics of carbonaceous aerosol (CA) and its light absorption properties are limited in Karachi, which is one of the most polluted metropolitan cities in South Asia. This study presents a comprehensive measurement of seasonality of CA compositions and mass absorption cross-section (MAC) of elemental carbon (EC) and water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) in total suspended particles (TSP) collected from February 2015 to March 2017 in the southwest part of Karachi. The average TSP, organic carbon (OC), and EC concentrations were extremely high with values as 391.0 ± 217.0, 37.2 ± 28.0, and 8.53 ± 6.97 μg/m3, respectively. These components showed clear seasonal variations with high concentrations occurring during fall and winter followed by spring and summer. SO42−, NO3, K+, and NH4+ showed similar variations with CA, implying the significant influence on atmospheric pollutants from anthropogenic activities. Relatively lower OC/EC ratio (4.20 ± 2.50) compared with remote regions further indicates fossil fuel combustion as a primary source of CA. Meanwhile, sea salt and soil dust are important contribution sources for TSP. The average MAC of EC (632 nm) and WSOC (365 nm) were 6.56 ± 2.70 and 0.97 ± 0.37 m2/g, respectively. MACEC is comparable to that in urban areas but lower than that in remote regions, indicating the significant influence of local emissions. MACWSOC showed opposite distribution with EC, further suggesting that OC was significantly affected by local fossil fuel combustion. In addition, dust might be an important factor increasing MACWSOC particularly during spring and summer.

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