Spatial and temporal trends in carbonaceous aerosols in the United Kingdom

Hanan A. Jafar, Roy M. Harrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


There is an increasing scientific interest in carbonaceous aerosols due to their effects on local air quality and climate. The database of the UK air monitoring networks from 2009 to 2017 was analyzed to examine the trends in black carbon (BC), brown carbon (BrC), elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) at 11 sites with different classifications over the UK. The concentrations increased from rural to urban background to kerbside sites. BC showed the strongest variation, with maxima at kerbside (>9.0 μg m−3) and minima at rural sites (below 1.0 μg m−3). On the other hand, BrC showed no clear variation according to site classification. BrC increased as domestic emissions of wood smoke increased at weekends. Total OC and secondary OC showed a winter maximum at urban and kerbside sites, while BC increased during the winter at urban sites and in autumn at kerbside sites. Secondary Organic Carbon is dominated by regional transport processes. All pollutants revealed a decreasing long-term trend in the UK, the most significant reduction was observed in BC levels, particularly at the kerbside site (−0.87 μg m−3 yr−1), with lesser rates of decline (−0.08 to −0.13 μg m−3 yr−1) at urban background sites. The general behaviour of BrC was consistent with a major contribution from regional transport. As expected, EC shows similar behaviour to BC, and OC/EC ratios have increased with time as diesel particle filters have reduced EC emissions more than OC, and other sources of primary OC have not changed markedly. Caption: A substantial spatial gradient in black carbon is seen between traffic, urban background and rural sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-305
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Pollution Research
Issue number1
Early online date21 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and uk-air. for providing the access to the air pollution monitoring network database.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Turkish National Committee for Air Pollution Research and Control


  • Black carbon
  • BrC
  • Carbonaceous aerosols
  • Elemental carbon
  • Emission trends
  • Organic carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science


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