Fossil and Nonfossil Sources of Organic and Elemental Carbon Aerosols in the Outflow from Northeast China

Yan Lin Zhang, Kimitaka Kawamura, Konstantinos Agrios, Meehye Lee, Gary Salazar, Sönke Szidat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Source quantification of carbonaceous aerosols in the Chinese outflow regions still remains uncertain despite their high mass concentrations. Here, we unambiguously quantified fossil and nonfossil contributions to elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) of total suspended particles (TSP) from a regional receptor site in the outflow of Northeast China using radiocarbon measurement. OC and EC concentrations were lower in summer, representing mainly marine air, than in other seasons, when air masses mostly traveled over continental regions in Mongolia and northeast China. The annual-mean contribution from fossil-fuel combustion to EC was 76 ± 11% (0.1-1.3 μg m-3). The remaining 24 ± 11% (0.03-0.42 μg m-3) was attributed to biomass burning, with slightly higher contribution in the cold period (∼31%) compared to the warm period (∼21%) because of enhanced emissions from regional biomass combustion sources in China. OC was generally dominated by nonfossil sources, with an annual average of 66 ± 11% (0.5-2.8 μg m-3), approximately half of which was apportioned to primary biomass-burning sources (34 ± 6%). In winter, OC almost equally originated from primary OC (POC) emissions and secondary OC (SOC) formation from fossil fuel and biomass-burning sources. In contrast, summertime OC was dominated by primary biogenic emissions as well as secondary production from biogenic and biomass-burning sources, but fossil-derived SOC was the smallest contributor. Distinction of POC and SOC was performed using primary POC-to-EC emission ratios separated for fossil and nonfossil emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6284-6292
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Fossil and Nonfossil Sources of Organic and Elemental Carbon Aerosols in the Outflow from Northeast China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this