The importance of Asia as a source of black carbon to the European Arctic during springtime 2013
Abstract:Black carbon aerosol (BC) deposited to the Arctic sea ice or present in the free troposphere can significantly affect the Earth's radiation budget at high latitudes yet the BC burden in these regions and the regional source contributions are poorly constrained. Aircraft measurements of aerosol composition in the European Arctic were conducted during March 2013. Pollutant plumes were encountered throughout the lower to upper Arctic troposphere featuring enhancements in CO and aerosol mass loadings, which were chemically speciated into BC and non-refractory sulphate and organic matter. FLEXPART-WRF simulations have been performed to evaluate the likely contribution to the pollution from regional ground sources. By combining up-to-date anthropogenic and open fire biomass burning (OBB) inventories, we have been able to compare the contributions made to the observed pollution layers from the sources of eastern/northern Asia (AS), Europe (EU) and North America (NA). Over 90% of the contribution to the pollution was shown to arise from non-OBB anthropogenic sources.
AS sources were found to be the major contributor to the BC burden in the middle and upper troposphere. EU sources influenced the middle troposphere but made a minor contribution to the upper troposphere due to the relatively high latitude of the source region. The contribution of NA was shown to be much lower at all altitudes. It is estimated that 60–95% of BC is scavenged between emission and receptor based on BC/ΔCO comparisons between source inventories and measurement.
We show that during the springtime of 2013, the anthropogenic pollution particularly from sources in Asia, contributed significantly to BC across the European Arctic free troposphere. In contrast to previous studies, the contribution from open wildfires was minimal. Given that Asian pollution is likely to continue to rise over the coming years, it is likely that the radiative forcing in the Arctic will also continue to increase.