Light absorption properties and potential sources of brown carbon in Fenwei Plain during winter 2018–2019

Maofa Ge , Wenyu Zhang , Weigang Wang , Jie Li , Shuangliang Ma , Chaofan Lian , Kun Li , Bo Shi , Mingyuan Liu , Yanyu Li , QingQing Wang , Yele Sun , Shengrui Tong


Received April 03, 2020,Revised , Accepted September 04, 2020, Available online September 28, 2020

Volume 102,2021,Pages 53-63

A distinctive kind of organic carbon aerosol that could absorb ultraviolet-visible radiation is called brown carbon (BrC), which has an important positive influence on radiative budget and climate change. In this work, we reported the absorption properties and potential source of BrC based on a seven-wavelength aethalometer in the winter of 2018–2019 at an urban site of Sanmenxia in Fenwei Plain in central China. Specifically, the mean value of BrC absorption coefficient was 59.6 ± 36.0 Mm−1 at 370 nm and contributed 37.7% to total absorption, which made a significant impact on visibility and regional environment. Absorption coefficients of BrC showed double-peak pattern, and BrC had shown small fluctuations under haze days compared with clean days. As for the sources of BrC, BrC absorption coefficients expressed strong correlations with element carbon aerosols and primary organic carbon aerosols, indicating that most of BrC originated from primary emissions. The linear correlations between trace metal elements (K, As, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Pb) and BrC absorption coefficients further referred that the major sources of BrC were primary emissions, like coal burning, biomass burning, and vehicle emissions. The moderate relationship between BrC absorption coefficients and secondary organic aerosols suggested that secondary production of BrC also played an important role. The 120 hr backward air mass trajectories analysis and concentration-weighted trajectories analysis were also used to investigate potential sources of BrC in and around this area, which inferred most parts of BrC were derived from local emissions.

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