Fossil Fuel Combustion Emission From South Asia Influences Precipitation Dissolved Organic Carbon Reaching the Remote Tibetan Plateau: Isotopic and Molecular Evidence

Chaoliu Li, Pengfei Chen, Shichang Kang, Fangping Yan, Lekhendra Tripathee, Guangjian Wu, Bin Qu, Mika Sillanpää, Di Yang, Thorsten Dittmar, Aron Stubbins, Peter A. Raymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The dissolved organic carbon in precipitation (water-soluble organic carbon, WSOC) can provide a carbon subsidy to receiving ecosystems. The concentrations, isotopic signatures (δ13C/Δ14C), and molecular signatures (transform ion cyclotron mass spectrometry) of WSOC being delivered to Nam Co—a remote site on the inland Tibetan Plateau (TP)—were compared to those of WSOC in the snowpack, and in wet deposition from urban cities fringing the TP. The average WSOC concentration at Nam Co (1.0 ± 0.9 mg C L−1) was lower than for the large cities (1.6 to 2.3 mg C L−1) but higher than in the snowpack samples (0.26 ± 0.09 mg C L−1). Based upon radiocarbon data, it is estimated that 15 ± 6% of Nam Co WSOC was fossil derived, increasing to 20 ± 8% for snowpack WSOC, 29 ± 4% for Lhasa WSOC, and 34 ± 8% for the three cities. Transform ion cyclotron mass spectrometry results revealed that the abundance of dissolved black carbon and sulfur-containing molecules of WSOC increased in the order Nam Co < snow pack < urban. The enrichment in 14C and depletion in dissolved black carbon and sulfurous organic molecules of Nam Co WSOC was suggestive of low, but still detectable inputs of fossil-derived organics to WSOC on the remote TP. Backward air mass trajectories for the precipitation events at Nam Co suggested that the fossil fuel contributions to WSOC in Nam Co region originated mainly from South Asia. This study provides novel radiocarbon age, chemistry, and source evidence that anthropogenic WSOC is delivered to the remote TP, one of the most remote regions on Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6248-6258
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume123
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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