Mass concentrations of black carbon measured by four instruments in the middle of Central East China in June 2006
1Frontier Research Center for Global Change, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
2Environment Research Institute, Shandong University, Jinan, China
3Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
4LAPC/NZC, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Abstract. Mass concentrations of black carbon (BC) were determined in June 2006 at the top of Mount Tai (36.26° N, 117.11° E, 1534 m a.s.l.), located in the middle of Central East China, using four different instruments: a multi-angle absorption photometer (5012 MAAP, Thermo), a particle soot absorption photometer (PSAP, Radiance Research), an ECOC semi-continuous analyzer (Sunset Laboratory) and an Aethalometer (AE-21, Magee Scientific). High correlation coefficients (R2>0.88) were obtained between the measurements of the BC mass concentrations made using the different instruments. From the range of the slopes of the linear least-square fittings, we concluded that BC concentrations regionally-representative of the area were measured in a range with a maximum-to-minimum ratio of 1.5 (an exception was that the BC (PM2.5) concentrations derived from MAAP were ~2 times higher than the optical measurements (PM2.5) derived from the ECOC analyzer). While this range is significant, it is still sufficiently narrow to better constrain the large and highly uncertain emission rate of BC from Central East China. In detail, two optical instruments (the MAAP and the PSAP equipped with a heated inlet 400°C) tended to give higher concentrations than the thermal EC concentrations observed by the ECOC analyzer. The ratios of optical BC to thermal EC showed a positive correlation with the OC/EC ratio reported by the ECOC analyzer, suggesting two explanations. One is that the optical instruments overestimated BC concentrations in spite of careful cancellation of the scattering effect in the MAAP instrument and the expected evaporation of volatile species by heating the inlet of the PSAP instrument. The other is that the determined split points between OC and EC were too late when a large amount of OC underwent charring during the analysis, resulting in an underestimation of EC by the ECOC analyzer. High ratios of optical BC to thermal EC were recorded when the NOx/NOy ratio was low, implying the coating of the particles became thicker in an aged air mass and thus resulted in the optical instruments overestimating BC concentrations because of the lensing effect.