Thick haze plagued northeastern China in January 2013, strongly affecting both regional climate and human respiratory health. Here, we present dual carbon isotope constrained (Delta C-14 and delta C-13) source apportionment for combustion-derived black carbon aerosol (BC) for three key hotspot regions (megacities): North China Plain (NCP, Beijing), the Yangtze River Delta (YRD, Shanghai), and the Pearl River Delta (PRD, Guangzhou) for January 2013. BC, here quantified as elemental carbon (EC), is one of the most health-detrimental components of PM2.5 and a strong climate warming agent. The results show that these severe haze events were equally affected (similar to 30%) by biomass combustion in all three regions, whereas the sources of the dominant fossil fuel component was dramatically different between north and south. In the NCP region, coal combustion accounted for 66% (46-74%, 95% C.I.) of the EC, whereas, in the YRD and PRD regions, liquid fossil fuel combustion (e.g., traffic) stood for 46% (18-66%) and 58% (38-68%), respectively. Taken together, these findings suggest the need for a regionally-specific description of BC sources in climate models and regionally-tailored mitigation to combat severe air pollution events in East Asia.
2015. Vol. 49, no 4, 2038-2043 p.