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Journal Article

Characteristics of atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at a mountainous forest site and two urban sites in the southeast of China


Li,  Mengze
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Hong, Z., Li, M., Wang, H., Xu, L., Hong, Y., Chen, J., et al. (2019). Characteristics of atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at a mountainous forest site and two urban sites in the southeast of China. Science of the Total Environment, 657, 1491-1500. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.132.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-0382-6
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are important trace gases in the atmosphere, affecting air quality (e.g. ozone and secondary organic aerosol formation) and human health. To understand the emission, transport and chemistry of VOCs in the southeast of China (Fujian Province), a campaign was conducted in summer and winter of 2016 at three contrasting sites in close proximity. One measurement site (Mt. Wuyi) is a mountainous forest site (1139 m a.s.l.) located in a natural reserve, while the other two sites (Fuzhou, Xiamen) are coastal urban sites with high population and vehicle density. Comparison of VOCs at these three sites provides a valuable perspective on regional air pollution and transport. Many of the measured alkanes, alkenes and aromatics exhibited clear seasonal and diurnal patterns, driven by variations of hydroxyl (OH) radicals, which is the predominant oxidant of VOCs in the atmosphere. By examining tracer-tracer correlations for VOCs, variability-lifetime analysis and 36 h backward trajectories, strong emissions from vehicular exhaust, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and solvent usage were identified as key sources in Fuzhou and Xiamen, whereas at Mt. Wuyi the main emission sources were local emissions (e.g. biomass burning) in summer and long-range transport in winter. The results indicate that natural sites could be impacted strongly by surrounding urbanization. Isoprene and propylene in summer and propylene in winter contributed the most to ozone formation at the three sites. The data in this study provides a useful benchmark for future research on air quality monitoring and emission sources in the region.