Articles | Volume 4, issue 7
Research article
19 Jul 2011
Research article |  | 19 Jul 2011

A 2.5 year's source apportionment study of black carbon from wood burning and fossil fuel combustion at urban and rural sites in Switzerland

H. Herich, C. Hueglin, and B. Buchmann

Abstract. The contributions of fossil fuel (FF) and wood burning (WB) emissions to black carbon (BC) have been investigated in the recent past by analysis of multi-wavelength aethalometer data. This approach utilizes the stronger light absorption of WB aerosols in the near ultraviolet compared to the light absorption of aerosols from FF combustion.

Here we present 2.5 years of seven-wavelength aethalometer data from one urban and two rural background sites in Switzerland measured from 2008–2010. The contribution of WB and FF to BC was directly determined from the aerosol absorption coefficients of FF and WB aerosols which were calculated by using confirmed Ångstrom exponents and aerosol light absorption cross-sections that were determined for all sites. Reasonable separation of total BC into contributions from FF and WB was achieved for all sites and seasons. The obtained WB contributions to BC are well correlated with measured concentrations of levoglucosan and potassium while FF contributions to BC correlate nicely with NOx. These findings support our approach and show that the applied source apportionment of BC is well applicable for long-term data sets.

During winter, we found that BC from WB contributes on average 24–33 % to total BC at the considered measurement sites. This is a noticeable high fraction as the contribution of wood burning to the total final energy consumption is in Switzerland less than 4 %.