EGU21-15174, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

13C signatures of aerosol organic and elemental carbon from major combustion sources in China and worldwide

Peng Yao1, Haiyan Ni1,2, Norbertas Kairys1, Lu Yang2, Ru-Jin Huang2, Harro A.J. Meijer1, and Ulrike Dusek1
Peng Yao et al.
  • 1Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen (ESRIG), University of Groningen, Groningen, 9747AG, the Netherlands (
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry & Physics, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710061, China

Isotopic source apportionment is commonly used to gain insight into sources and atmospheric processing of carbonaceous aerosols. Since elemental carbon (EC) is chemically stable, it is possible to apportion the main sources of EC (coal/biomass burning and traffic emissions) using a dual 14C-13C isotope approach. However, dual-isotope source apportionment crucially relies on accurate knowledge of the 13C source signatures, which are seldom measured directly for EC. In this work, we present extensive measurements of organic carbon (OC) and EC 13C signatures for relevant sources in China. The EC 13C source signatures are provided first time using the optical split point in a thermal-optical analyzer to isolate EC, which can greatly reduce the influence of pyrolyzed organic carbon (pOC). A series of sensitivity studies (pOC/EC separation) were conducted to investigate the reliability of our method and its relation to other EC isolation methods. Meanwhile, we summarized and compared the literature 13C signatures in detail of raw source materials, total carbon (TC) and EC using a variety of thermal methods. Finally, we recommend composite EC 13C source signatures with uncertainties and detailed application conditions. There are two points worth noting. First, the traffic 13C signatures of raw materials and EC are separated into three groups according to geographical distribution. Second, the EC 13C signature of C4 plant combustion can be influenced greatly if pOC and EC are not well separated, so the thermal-optical method is necessary. Using these EC 13C source signatures in an exemplary dual-isotope source apportionment study shows improvement in precision. In addition, some interesting distinct and repeatable patterns were discovered in 13C source signatures of semi-volatile, low-volatile, and non-volatile primary OC fractions.

How to cite: Yao, P., Ni, H., Kairys, N., Yang, L., Huang, R.-J., A.J. Meijer, H., and Dusek, U.: 13C signatures of aerosol organic and elemental carbon from major combustion sources in China and worldwide, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15174,, 2021.

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