Main content area

Temporal characteristics and vertical distribution of atmospheric ammonia and ammonium in winter in Beijing

Wang, Qingqing, Zhang, Qi, Ma, Zhiqiang, Ge, Baozhu, Xie, Conghui, Zhou, Wei, Zhao, Jian, Xu, Weiqi, Du, Wei, Fu, Pingqing, Lee, James, Nemitz, Eiko, Cowan, Nicholas, Mullinger, Neil, Cheng, Xueling, Zhou, Libo, Yue, Siyao, Wang, Zifa, Sun, Yele
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.681 pp. 226-234
aerosols, ammonia, ammonium, biomass, burning, emissions, fossil fuels, fuel combustion, light extinction coefficient, mixing ratio, spatial distribution, temperature inversion, winter, China
To understand the temporal characteristics and vertical distributions of ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4) in urban Beijing, we conducted ground-based and tower-based measurements of gaseous NH3 and submicron aerosol composition. The average mixing ratio of NH3 was 16.5 ± 7.4 ppb, ranging from 3.8 to 36.9 ppb. Gas-to-particle partitioning of NHx (=NH3 + NH4) played a significant role on NH3 concentration as the molar ratio of NH3 to NHx decreased as a function of NH4 concentration. The NH3 concentrations increased as a function of PM1 at lower levels (<125 μg m−3), but remained relatively constant at higher PM and NH4 levels, indicating an enhanced gas-to-particle conversion of NH3 during highly polluted conditions. The potential sources of NHx were found to include fossil fuel combustion and biomass burning. Regional transport could also play an important role on NH3 concentration during the formation stage of haze episodes due to particle-to-gas conversion. Four distinctive types of vertical profiles (87% of the time) of both NH3 and fine particle light extinction coefficient (bext) were observed and they were associated with well-mixed atmosphere, fast accumulation of local emissions, regional transport aloft, and the formation of low urban boundary layer, respectively. However, the vertical profiles of NH3 typically (96% of the time) showed a more homogeneous characteristic than those of bext below 260 m, except periods with both strong temperature inversion and large aerosol gradient, the formation of urban boundary layer shall cause a significant transition in the vertical distribution of NH3 below 260 m. During highly polluted situations (PM1 > 125 μg m−3), the strong effect of gas-to-particle partitioning of NHx sometimes (7% of the time) caused opposite trends in vertical profiles of NH3 and bext.