Dual isotope (13C-14C) Studies of Water-Soluble Organic Carbon (WSOC) Aerosols in South and East Asia

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM), Stockholm Univeristy

Abstract: Atmospheric aerosols may be emitted directly as particles (primary) or formed from gaseous precursors (secondary) from different natural and anthropogenic sources. The highly populated South and East Asia regions are currently in a phase of rapid economic growth to which high emissions of carbonaceous aerosols are coupled. This leads to generally poor air quality and a substantial impact of anthropogenic aerosols on the regional climate. However, the emissions of different carbon aerosol components are still poorly constrained. Water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) is a large (20-80%) component of carbonaceous aerosols that can absorb solar light and enhance cloud formation, influencing both the direct and indirect climate effects of the aerosols.A novel method for carbon isotope-based studies, including source apportionment, of the WSOC component of ambient aerosols was developed and tested for recovery efficiency and the risk of contamination using both synthetic test substances and ambient aerosols (paper I). The application of this method for the source apportionment of aerosols in South and East Asia shows that fossil fuel input to WSOC is significant in both South Asia (about 17-23%) highly impacted by biomass combustion practices and in East Asia (up to 50%) dominated by fossil energy sources (papers II, III, IV). Fossil fraction in WSOC in the outflow from northern China is considerably larger than what has been measured in South Asia, Europe and USA (paper IV). A trend of enrichment in heavy stable carbon isotopes in WSOC with distance the particles have been transported from the source is observed in the South Asian region (papers II, III). Dual-isotope (?14C and ?13C) analysis demonstrates that WSOC is highly influenced by atmospheric aging processes.