Evaluation of black carbon source apportionment based on one year's daily observations in Beijing

Hong Wei Xiao, Dong Yang Mao, Li Lei Huang, Hua Yun Xiao, Jing Feng Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Combustion-derived black carbon (BC) is increasingly recognized as a significant pollutant that can have adverse effects on the atmospheric environment, human health, and regional climate. Fossil fuel combustion is the main source of BC, yet understanding of the relative contributions to BC from coal and liquid fuel combustion remains incomplete. Moreover, few studies have assessed the relative contributions based on long-term continuous daily field observations. This study adopted a Bayesian model of a three-dimensional array of a stable carbon isotope and the ratios of non-sea-salt K+ to BC and ΔBC/ΔCO of one year's daily observations (from September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018) to constrain source apportionment of BC in Beijing (China). Results showed that both the BC and the carbon isotope concentrations exhibited strong seasonal variability, and that the annual BC concentration has decreased significantly in recent years. The Bayesian model results also revealed that the relative contributions from the combustion of coal, liquid fuel, and biomass were 42% ± 18%, 42% ± 18%, and 16% ± 11%, respectively, with a larger contribution from coal (liquid fuel) combustion in winter and spring (summer and autumn). The seasonal variation of source appointment was attributed to local and regional fuel combustion coupled with meteorological conditions. With increasing PM2.5 level, the BC concentration derived from biomass burning increased fastest, followed by that derived from coal combustion. But concentration of secondary inorganic ions increased faster than BC as PM2.5 increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145668
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Jun 15 2021


  • Black carbon
  • Fossil fuel combustion
  • Source apportionment
  • Stable carbon isotope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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