Source attribution of black and Brown carbon near-UV light absorption in Beijing, China and the impact of regional air-mass transport.


Black and Brown Carbon (BC, BrC) are key parameters of climate forcing, yet significant challenges exist assigning emission source contributions to light-absorption by carbonaceous aerosols. Additionally, BC and BrC emissions add to extreme air pollution events in Chinese mega-cities, which harm human health and detract from the natural and built environment. To address these concerns, the ability to estimate atmospheric light absorption related to emission sources and global inventories is a highly valuable tool for climate modelers and policy makers. Three months of BC and BrC data was collected using an Aethalometer in parallel to PM2.5 filter sampling during a stringent emission controls period and post controls period, including during the regional heating season. In this study reconstructed 370 nm wavelength absorption was calculated by applying source specific Mass Absorption Cross-Sections to PMF apportioned EC and OC results. Reconstructed absorption showed good agreement with the ambient measured absorption for both BC and BrC. In Beijing, the major contributor to near-UV absorption was mobile sources, which accounted for 45-54% of absorption by BC and 14-18% by BrC. BrC absorption from secondary aerosols, biomass burning, and soil dust was also estimated, with these sources contributing from 1 to 9% individually. Meteorological cluster analysis showed that air mass origin did not impact the absorption reconstruction and that the highest regional contribution to near-UV light absorption originated primarily in areas south and east of Beijing. The study shows ambient near-UV light absorption can be predicted using BC and BrC MAC values from sources. However, the current number of multi-wavelength and source specific BrC MAC values reported in the literature is limited. The reconstruction approach allows for a more robust method of assigning light absorption to source categories, allowing the expansion of aethalometer derived BrC apportionment to multiple sources, including biomass burning.