Chemical and optical properties of carbonaceous aerosols in Nanjing, eastern China: regionally transported biomass burning contribution
Biomass burning can significantly impact the chemical and optical properties of carbonaceous aerosols. Here, the biomass burning impacts were studied during wintertime in a megacity of Nanjing, eastern China. The high abundance of biomass burning tracers such as levoglucosan (lev), mannosan (man), galactosan (gal) and non-sea-salt potassium (nss-K+) was found during the studied period with the concentration ranges of 22.4–1476 ng m−3, 2.1–56.2 ng m−3, 1.4–32.2 ng m−3 and 0.2–3.8 µg m−3, respectively. The significant contribution of biomass burning to water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC; 22.3±9.9 %) and organic carbon (OC; 20.9±9.3 %) was observed in this study. Backward air mass origin analysis, potential emission sensitivity of elemental carbon (EC) and MODIS fire spot information indicated that the elevations of the carbonaceous aerosols were due to the transported biomass-burning aerosols from southeastern China. The characteristic mass ratio maps of lev∕man and lev∕nss-K+ suggested that the biomass fuels were mainly crop residuals. Furthermore, the strong correlation (p < 0.01) between biomass burning tracers (such as lev) and light absorption coefficient (babs) for water-soluble brown carbon (BrC) revealed that biomass burning emissions played a significant role in the light-absorption properties of carbonaceous aerosols. The solar energy absorption due to water-soluble brown carbon and EC was estimated by a calculation based on measured light-absorbing parameters and a simulation based on a radiative transfer model (RRTMG_SW). The solar energy absorption of water-soluble BrC in short wavelengths (300–400 nm) was 0.8±0.4 (0.2–2.3) W m−2 (figures in parentheses represent the variation range of each parameter) from the calculation and 1.2±0.5 (0.3–1.9) W m−2 from the RRTMG_SW model. The absorption capacity of water-soluble BrC accounted for about 20 %–30 % of the total absorption of EC aerosols. The solar energy absorption of water-soluble BrC due to biomass burning was estimated as 0.2±0.1 (0.0–0.9) W m−2, considering the biomass burning contribution to carbonaceous aerosols. Potential source contribution function model simulations showed that the solar energy absorption induced by water-soluble BrC and EC aerosols was mostly due to the regionally transported carbonaceous aerosols from source regions such as southeastern China. Our results illustrate the importance of the absorbing water-soluble brown carbon aerosols in trapping additional solar energy in the low-level atmosphere, heating the surface and inhibiting the energy from escaping the atmosphere.