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Source signatures from combined isotopic analyses of PM2.5 carbonaceous and nitrogen aerosols at the peri-urban Taehwa Research Forest, South Korea in summer and fall.


Isotopes are essential tools to apportion major sources of aerosols. We measured the radiocarbon, stable carbon, and stable nitrogen isotopic composition of PM2.5 at Taehwa Research Forest (TRF) near Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA) during August-October 2014. PM2.5, TC, and TN concentrations were 19.4 ± 10.1 μg m-3, 2.6 ± 0.8 μg C m-3, and 1.4 ± 1.4 μg N m-3, respectively. The δ13C of TC and the δ15N of TN were - 25.4 ± 0.7‰ and 14.6 ± 3.8‰, respectively. EC was dominated by fossil-fuel sources with Fff (EC) of 78 ± 7%. In contrast, contemporary sources were dominant for TC with Fc (TC) of 76 ± 7%, revealing the significant contribution of contemporary sources to OC during the growing season. The isotopic signature carries more detailed information on sources depending on air mass trajectories. The urban influence was dominant under stagnant condition, which was in reasonable agreement with the estimated δ15N of NH4+. The low δ15N (7.0 ± 0.2‰) with high TN concentration was apparent in air masses from Shandong province, indicating fossil fuel combustion as major emission source. In contrast, the high δ15N (16.1 ± 3.2‰) with enhanced TC/TN ratio reveals the impact of biomass burning in the air transported from the far eastern border region of China and Russia. Our findings highlight that the multi-isotopic composition is a useful tool to identify emission sources and to trace regional sources of carbonaceous and nitrogen aerosols.

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