Measurement of black carbon aerosols near two Chinese megacities and the implications for improving emission inventories

Xuehua Zhou, Jian Gao, Tao Wang, Waishing Wu, Wenxing Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge of the distribution and sources of black carbon (BC) is essential to understanding its impact on radiative forcing and the establishment of a control strategy. In this study, we analyze atmospheric BC and its relationships with fine particles (PM2.5) and trace gases (CO, NOyand SO2) measured in the summer of 2005 in two areas frequently influenced by plumes from Beijing and Shanghai, the two largest cities in China. The results revealed different BC source characteristics for the two megacities. The average concentration of BC was 2.37 (±1.79) and 5.47 (±4.00) μg m-3, accounting for 3.1% and 7.8% of the PM2.5mass, in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively. The good correlation between BC, CO and NOy(R2 = 0.54-0.77) and the poor correlation between BC and SO2suggest that diesel vehicles and marine vessels are the dominant sources of BC in the two urban areas during summer. The BC/CO mass ratio in the air mass from Shanghai was found to be much higher than that in the air mass from Beijing (0.0101 versus 0.0037 ΔgBC/ΔgCO), which is attributable to a larger contribution from diesel burning (diesel-powered vehicles and marine vessels) in Shanghai. Based on the measured ratios of BC/CO and annual emissions of CO, we estimate that the annual emissions of BC in Beijing and Shanghai are 9.51 Gg and 18.72 Gg, respectively. The improved emission rates of BC will help reduce the uncertainty in the assessment of the impact of megacities on regional climate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3918-3924
Number of pages7
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


  • Beijing
  • Black carbon
  • Emission
  • PM 2.5
  • Shanghai
  • Trace gases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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