Source signatures from combined isotopic analyses of PM2.5 carbonaceous and nitrogen aerosols at the peri-urban Taehwa Research Forest, South Korea in summer and fall

Saehee Lim, Meehye Lee, Claudia I. Czimczik, Taekyu Joo, Sandra Holden, Gergana Mouteva, Guaciara M. Santos, Xiaomei Xu, Jennifer Walker, Saewung Kim, Hyun Seok Kim, Soyoung Kim, Sanguk Lee

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Isotopes are essential tools to apportion major sources of aerosols. We measured the radiocarbon, stable carbon, and stable nitrogen isotopic composition of PM2.5 at Taehwa Research Forest (TRF) near Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA) during August–October 2014. PM2.5, TC, and TN concentrations were 19.4 ± 10.1 μg m−3, 2.6 ± 0.8 μg C m−3, and 1.4 ± 1.4 μg N m−3, respectively. The δ13C of TC and the δ15N of TN were − 25.4 ± 0.7‰ and 14.6 ± 3.8‰, respectively. EC was dominated by fossil-fuel sources with Fff (EC) of 78 ± 7%. In contrast, contemporary sources were dominant for TC with Fc (TC) of 76 ± 7%, revealing the significant contribution of contemporary sources to OC during the growing season. The isotopic signature carries more detailed information on sources depending on air mass trajectories. The urban influence was dominant under stagnant condition, which was in reasonable agreement with the estimated δ15N of NH4 +. The low δ15N (7.0 ± 0.2‰) with high TN concentration was apparent in air masses from Shandong province, indicating fossil fuel combustion as major emission source. In contrast, the high δ15N (16.1 ± 3.2‰) with enhanced TC/TN ratio reveals the impact of biomass burning in the air transported from the far eastern border region of China and Russia. Our findings highlight that the multi-isotopic composition is a useful tool to identify emission sources and to trace regional sources of carbonaceous and nitrogen aerosols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1505-1514
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 10

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Strategic Project-Fine Particle of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), the Ministry of Environment (ME), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) ( 2017M3D8A1092015 ). Funding (to S. Lim) was provided by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and the Ministry of Education ( 2015R1A6A3A01061393 and 2016R1D1A1B03934532 ), and (to S. R. Holden) via a U.S. NOAA Climate and Global Change Fellowship. We thank J. Wessling for assistance with sample preparation in the laboratory and the KCCAMS staff, in particular J. Southon, X. Xu, and D. Zhang, for their assistance with sample analyses. We gratefully acknowledge the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for providing the HYSPLIT transport and dispersion model and/or READY website ( ) used in this publication. We also acknowledge the MODIS mission scientists and associated NASA personnel for the production of data used in this research effort.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • C
  • C
  • N
  • Stable isotope
  • Taehwa Research Forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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