Carbonyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfide and carbon disulfide in the Pearl River Delta of southern China: Impact of anthropogenic and biogenic sources

Hai Guo, I. J. Simpson, A. J. Ding, Tao Wang, S. M. Saunders, T. J. Wang, H. R. Cheng, B. Barletta, S. Meinardi, D. R. Blake, F. S. Rowland

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Reduced sulfur compounds (RSCs) such as carbonyl sulfide (OCS), dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and carbon disulfide (CS2) impact radiative forcing, ozone depletion, and acid rain. Although Asia is a large source of these compounds, until now a long-term study of their emission patterns has not been carried out. Here we analyze 16 months of RSC data measured at a polluted rural/coastal site in the greater Pearl River Delta (PRD) of southern China. A total of 188 canister air samples were collected from August 2001 to December 2002. The OCS and CS2mixing ratios within these samples were higher in autumn/winter and lower in summer due to the influence of Asian monsoon circulations. Comparatively low DMS values observed in this coastal region suggest a relatively low biological productivity during summer months. The springtime OCS levels in the study region (574 ± 40 pptv) were 25% higher than those on other East Asia coasts such Japan, whereas the springtime CS2and DMS mixing ratios in the PRD (47 ± 38 pptv and 22 ± 5 pptv, respectively) were 3-30 times lower than elevated values that have been measured elsewhere in East Asia (Japan and Korea) at this time of year. Poor correlations were found among the three RSCs in the whole group of 188 samples, suggesting their complex and variable sources in the region. By means of backward Lagrangian particle release simulations, air samples originating from the inner PRD, urban Hong Kong and South China Sea were identified. The mean mixing ratio of OCS in the inner PRD was significantly higher than that in Hong Kong urban air and South China Sea marine air (p < 0.001), whereas no statistical differences were found for DMS and CS2among the three regions (p > 0.05). Using a linear regression method based on correlations with the urban tracer CO, the estimated OCS emission in inner PRD (49.6 ± 4.7 Gg yr-1) was much higher than that in Hong Kong (0.32 ± 0.05 Gg yr-1), whereas the estimated CS2and DMS emissions in the study region accounted for a very few percentage of the total CS2and DMS emission in China. These findings lay the foundation for better understanding sulfur chemistry in the greater PRD region of southern China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3805-3813
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • CS 2
  • DMS
  • Greater Pearl River Delta
  • OCS
  • Reduced sulfur compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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