Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP), vol. 18, 963–977, 2018
Short-lived climate forcers have been proven important both for the climate and human health. In particular, black carbon (BC) is an important climate forcer both as an aerosol and when deposited on snow and ice surface because of its strong light absorption. This paper presents measurements of elemental carbon (EC; a measurement-based definition of BC) in snow collected from western Siberia and northwestern European Russia during 2014, 2015 and 2016. The Russian Arctic is of great interest to the scientific community due to the large uncertainty of emission sources there. We have determined the major contributing sources of BC in snow in western Siberia and northwestern European Russia using a Lagrangian atmospheric transport model. For the first time, we use a recently developed feature that calculates deposition in backward (so-called retroplume) simulations allowing estimation of the specific locations of sources that contribute to the deposited mass.
EC concentrations in snow from western Siberia and northwestern European Russia were highly variable depending on the sampling location. Modelled BC and measured EC were moderately correlated (R = 0.53–0.83) and a systematic region-specific model underestimation was found. The model underestimated observations by 42 % (RMSE = 49 ng g−1) in 2014, 48 % (RMSE = 37 ng g−1) in 2015 and 27 % (RMSE = 43 ng g−1) in 2016. For EC sampled in northwestern European Russia the underestimation by the model was smaller (fractional bias, FB > −100 %). In this region, the major sources were transportation activities and domestic combustion in Finland. When sampling shifted to western Siberia, the model underestimation was more significant (FB < −100 %). There, the sources included emissions from gas flaring as a major contributor to snow BC. The accuracy of the model calculations was also evaluated using two independent datasets of BC measurements in snow covering the entire Arctic. The model underestimated BC concentrations in snow especially for samples collected in springtime.