A trajectory analysis of atmospheric transport of black carbon aerosols to Canadian high Arctic in winter and spring (1990–2005)
1Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, 200 College Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3E5 Canada
2Air Quality Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto, ON M3H 5T4 Canada
3Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto, ON M3H 5T4 Canada
Abstract. Black carbon (BC) particles accumulated in the Arctic troposphere and deposited on snow have been calculated to have significant effects on radiative forcing of the Arctic regional climate. Applying cluster analysis technique on 10-day backward trajectories, seven distinct transport pathways (or clusters) affecting Alert (82.5° N, 62.5° W), Nunavut in Canada are identified in this work. Transport frequency associated with each pathway is obtained as the fraction of trajectories in that cluster. Based on atmospheric transport frequency and BC surface flux from surrounding regions (i.e. North America, Europe, and former USSR), a linear regression model is constructed to investigate the inter-annual variations of BC observed at Alert in January and April, representative of winter and spring respectively, between 1990 and 2005. Strong correlations are found between BC concentrations predicted with the regression model and measurements at Alert for both seasons (R2 equals 0.77 and 0.81 for winter and spring, respectively). Results imply that atmospheric transport and BC emission are the major contributors to the inter-annual variations in BC concentrations observed at Alert in the cold seasons for the 16-year period. Other factors, such as deposition, could also contribute to the variability in BC concentrations but were not considered in this analysis. Based on the regression model the relative contributions of regional BC emissions affecting Alert are attributed to the Eurasian sector, composed of the European Union and the former USSR, and the North American sector. Considering both seasons, the model suggests that former USSR is the major contributor to the near-surface BC levels at the Canadian high Arctic site with an average contribution of about 67% during the 16-year period, followed by European Union (18%) and North America (15%). In winter, the atmospheric transport of BC aerosols from Eurasia is found to be even more predominant with a multi-year average of 94%. The model estimates smaller contribution from the Eurasian sector in spring (70%) than that in winter. It is also found that the inter-annual variation in Eurasian contributions depends mainly on the reduction of emissions, while the changes in both emission and atmospheric transport contributed to the inter-annual variation of North American contributions.