Role of organic and black carbon in the chemical composition of atmospheric aerosol at European background sites

Z. Krivácsy, A. Hoffer, Zs Sárvári, D. Temesi, U. Baltensperger, S. Nyeki, E. Weingartner, S. Kleefeld, S. G. Jennings

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The mass concentrations of inorganic ions, water-soluble organic carbon, water-insoluble organic carbon and black carbon were determined in atmospheric aerosol collected at three European background sites: (i) the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland (high-alpine, PM2.5 aerosol); (ii) K-puszta, Hungary (rural, PM1.0 aerosol); (iii) Mace Head, Ireland (marine, total particulate matter). At the Jungfraujoch and K-puszta the contribution of carbonaceous compounds to the aerosol mass was higher than that of inorganic ions by 33% and 94%, respectively. At these continental sites about 60% of the organic carbon was water soluble, 55-75% of the total carbon proved to be refractory and a considerable portion of the water soluble, refractory organic matter was composed of humic-like substances. At Mace Head the mass concentration of organic matter was found to be about twice than that of nonsea-salt ions, 40% of the organic carbon was water soluble and the amount of highly refractory carbon was low. Humic-like substances were not detected but instead low molecular weight carboxylic acids were responsible for about one-fifth of the water-soluble organic mass. These results imply that the influence of carbonaceous compounds on aerosol properties (e.g. hygroscopic, optical) might be significant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6231-6244
Number of pages14
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001



  • Background atmospheric aerosol
  • Black carbon
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Humic-like substances
  • Organic carbon
  • Thermal behaviour
  • Water solubility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Krivácsy, Z., Hoffer, A., Sárvári, Z., Temesi, D., Baltensperger, U., Nyeki, S., Weingartner, E., Kleefeld, S., & Jennings, S. G. (2001). Role of organic and black carbon in the chemical composition of atmospheric aerosol at European background sites. Atmospheric Environment, 35(36), 6231-6244.