Long-term real-time measurements of aerosol particle composition in Beijing, China

Seasonal variations, meteorological effects, and source analysis

Y. L. Sun, Z. F. Wang, W. Du, Q. Zhang, Q. Q. Wang, P. Q. Fu, Xiaole Pan, J. Li, J. Jayne, D. R. Worsnop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

High concentrations of fine particles (PM2.5) are frequently observed during all seasons in Beijing, China, leading to severe air pollution and human health problems in this megacity. In this study, we conducted real-time measurements of non-refractory submicron aerosol (NR-PM1) species (sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, chloride, and organics) in Beijing using an Aerodyne Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor for 1 year, from July 2011 to June 2012. This is the first long-term, highly time-resolved (∼ 15 min) measurement of fine particle composition in China. The seasonal average (±1σ) mass concentration of NR-PM1 ranged from 52 (±49) 1/4g mg'3 in the spring season to 62 (±49) 1/4g mg'3 in the summer season, with organics being the major fraction (40-51 %), followed by nitrate (17-25 %) and sulfate (12-17 %). Organics and chloride showed pronounced seasonal variations, with much higher concentrations in winter than in the other seasons, due to enhanced coal combustion emissions. Although the seasonal variations of secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA, i.e., sulfate + nitrate + ammonium) concentrations were not significant, higher contributions of SIA were observed in summer (57-61 %) than in winter (43-46 %), indicating that secondary aerosol production is a more important process than primary emissions in summer. Organics presented pronounced diurnal cycles that were similar among all seasons, whereas the diurnal variations of nitrate were mainly due to the competition between photochemical production and gas-particle partitioning. Our data also indicate that high concentrations of NR-PM1 (> 60 1/4g m−3) are usually associated with high ambient relative humidity (RH) (> 50 %) and that severe particulate pollution is characterized by different aerosol composition in different seasons. All NR-PM1 species showed evident concentration gradients as a function of wind direction, generally with higher values associated with wind from the south, southeast or east. This was consistent with their higher potential as source areas, as determined by potential source contribution function analysis. A common high potential source area, located to the southwest of Beijing along the Taihang Mountains, was observed during all seasons except winter, when smaller source areas were found. These results demonstrate a high potential impact of regional transport from surrounding regions on the formation of severe haze pollution in Beijing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10149-10165
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume15
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 11 2015

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seasonal variation
aerosol
ammonium nitrate
sulfate
winter
summer
chloride
nitrate
pollution
aerosol composition
speciation (chemistry)
megacity
spring (season)
haze
wind direction
diurnal variation
effect
analysis
relative humidity
atmospheric pollution

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Long-term real-time measurements of aerosol particle composition in Beijing, China : Seasonal variations, meteorological effects, and source analysis. / Sun, Y. L.; Wang, Z. F.; Du, W.; Zhang, Q.; Wang, Q. Q.; Fu, P. Q.; Pan, Xiaole; Li, J.; Jayne, J.; Worsnop, D. R.

In: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 15, No. 17, 11.09.2015, p. 10149-10165.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sun, Y. L. ; Wang, Z. F. ; Du, W. ; Zhang, Q. ; Wang, Q. Q. ; Fu, P. Q. ; Pan, Xiaole ; Li, J. ; Jayne, J. ; Worsnop, D. R. / Long-term real-time measurements of aerosol particle composition in Beijing, China : Seasonal variations, meteorological effects, and source analysis. In: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 2015 ; Vol. 15, No. 17. pp. 10149-10165.
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