Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 3149-3171, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
20 Mar 2015
Sources and contributions of wood smoke during winter in London: assessing local and regional influences
L. R. Crilley1, W. J. Bloss1, J. Yin1, D. C. S. Beddows1,*, R. M. Harrison1,**, J. D. Allan2,*, D. E. Young2,***, M. Flynn2, P. Williams2,*, P. Zotter3,****, A. S. H. Prevot3, M. R. Heal4, J. F. Barlow5, C. H. Halios5, J. D. Lee6, S. Szidat7, and C. Mohr8,***** 1School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
2School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
3Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland
4School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
5Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
6Department of Chemistry, University of York, York, UK
7Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Oeschger Centre of Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
8Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
*also at: National Centre for Atmospheric Science, UK
**also at: Department of Environmental Sciences/Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
***now at: Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
****now at: Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture, Bioenergy Research, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, 6048 Horw, Switzerland
*****now at: Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Aerosol Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
Abstract. Determining the contribution of wood smoke to air pollution in large cities such as London is becoming increasingly important due to the changing nature of domestic heating in urban areas. During winter, biomass burning emissions have been identified as a major cause of exceedances of European air quality limits. The aim of this work was to quantify the contribution of biomass burning in London to concentrations of PM2.5 and determine whether local emissions or regional contributions were the main source of biomass smoke. To achieve this, a number of biomass burning chemical tracers were analysed at a site within central London and two sites in surrounding rural areas. Concentrations of levoglucosan, elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC) and K+ were generally well correlated across the three sites. At all the sites, biomass burning was found to be a source of OC and EC, with the largest contribution of EC from traffic emissions, while for OC the dominant fraction included contributions from secondary organic aerosols, primary biogenic and cooking sources. Source apportionment of the EC and OC was found to give reasonable estimation of the total carbon from non-fossil and fossil fuel sources based upon comparison with estimates derived from 14C analysis. Aethalometer-derived black carbon data were also apportioned into the contributions from biomass burning and traffic and showed trends similar to those observed for EC. Mean wood smoke mass at the sites was estimated to range from 0.78 to 1.0 μg m−3 during the campaign in January–February 2012. Measurements on a 160 m tower in London suggested a similar ratio of brown to black carbon (reflecting wood burning and traffic respectively) in regional and London air. Peaks in the levoglucosan and K+ concentrations were observed to coincide with low ambient temperature, consistent with domestic heating as a major contributing local source in London. Overall, the source of biomass smoke in London was concluded to be a background regional source overlaid by contributions from local domestic burning emissions. This could have implications when considering future emission control strategies during winter and may be the focus of future work in order to better determine the contributing local sources.

Citation: Crilley, L. R., Bloss, W. J., Yin, J., Beddows, D. C. S., Harrison, R. M., Allan, J. D., Young, D. E., Flynn, M., Williams, P., Zotter, P., Prevot, A. S. H., Heal, M. R., Barlow, J. F., Halios, C. H., Lee, J. D., Szidat, S., and Mohr, C.: Sources and contributions of wood smoke during winter in London: assessing local and regional influences, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 3149-3171,, 2015.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Wood is a renewable fuel but its combustion for residential heating releases a number of locally acting air pollutants, most notably particulate matter known to have adverse effects on human health. This paper used chemical tracers for wood smoke to estimate the contribution that burning wood makes to concentrations of airborne particles in the atmosphere of southern England and most particularly in London.
Wood is a renewable fuel but its combustion for residential heating releases a number of locally...