Impacts of Chemical Degradation on the Global Budget of Atmospheric Levoglucosan and Its Use As a Biomass Burning Tracer Academic Article uri icon

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  • Levoglucosan has been widely used to quantitatively assess biomass burning's contribution to ambient aerosols, but previous such assessments have not accounted for levoglucosan's degradation in the atmosphere. We develop the first global simulation of atmospheric levoglucosan, explicitly accounting for its chemical degradation, to evaluate the impacts on levoglucosan's use in quantitative aerosol source apportionment. Levoglucosan is emitted into the atmosphere from the burning of plant matter in open fires (1.7 Tg yr-1) and as biofuels (2.1 Tg yr-1). Sinks of atmospheric levoglucosan include aqueous-phase oxidation (2.9 Tg yr-1), heterogeneous oxidation (0.16 Tg yr-1), gas-phase oxidation (1.4 × 10-4 Tg yr-1), and dry and wet deposition (0.27 and 0.43 Tg yr -1). The global atmospheric burden of levoglucosan is 19 Gg with a lifetime of 1.8 days. Observations show a sharp decline in levoglucosan's concentrations and its relative abundance to organic carbon aerosol (OC) and particulate K+ from near-source to remote sites. We show that such features can only be reproduced when levoglucosan's chemical degradation is included in the model. Using model results, we develop statistical parametrizations to account for the atmospheric degradation in levoglucosan measurements, improving their use for quantitative aerosol source apportionment.


  • Li, Yumin
  • Fu, Tzung-May
  • Yu, Jian Zhen
  • Feng, Xu
  • Zhang, Lijuan
  • Chen, Jing
  • Boreddy, Suresh Kumar Reddy
  • Kawamura, Kimitaka
  • Fu, Pingqing
  • Yang, Xin
  • Zhu, Lei
  • Zeng, Zhenzhong

publication date

  • April 20, 2021