Seasonal trends and possible sources of brown carbon based on 2-year aerosol measurements at six sites in Europe
Journal article, 2007
Brown carbon is a ubiquitous and unidentified component of organic aerosol which has recently come into the forefront of atmospheric research. This component is strongly linked to the class of humic-like substances (HULIS) in aerosol whose ultimate origin is still being debated. Using a simplified spectroscopic method the concentrations of brown carbon have been determined in aqueous extracts of fine aerosol collected during the CARBOSOL project. On the basis of the results of 2-year measurements of several aerosol constituents at six European sites, possible sources of brown carbon are inferred. Biomass burning ( possibly domestic wood burning) is shown to be a major source of brown carbon in winter. At elevated sites in spring, smoke from agricultural fires may be an additional source. Direct comparison of measured brown carbon concentrations with HULIS determined by an independent method reveals that the two quantities correlate well at low-elevation sites throughout the year. At high-elevation sites the correlation is still high for winter but becomes markedly lower in summer, implying different sources and/or atmospheric sinks of brown carbon and HULIS. The results shed some light on the relationships between atmospheric brown carbon and HULIS, two ill-defined and overlapping components of organic aerosol.