Mountains in the Chaning World, Mountains in the Chaning World

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Black carbon - Smoke in countries across Asia and megacities and determining its effects on climate change using nuclear analytical technologies
Andreas Markwitz, David Cohen, Bilkis A. Begum, Bangfa Ni, Sanjay K. Sahu, Muhayatun Santoso, Jong M. Lim, Shamsiah A. Rahman, Dagva Shagjjamba, Naila Siddique, Preciosa C.B. Pabroa, M.C. Shirani Seneviratne, Wanna Wimolwattanapun, Thu BacVuong

Last modified: 2017-08-17


Ambient particulate matter (APM) pollution, often referred to as smog or haze, is a global problem impacting every country and region in the world to varying degrees. Countries within the rapidly developing Asia-Pacific region have higher levels of APM compared with internationally recognised health standards. A significant component of fine air particulate matter is black carbon (BC). Understand the origin of BC will provide decision makers with tools to tackle local, regional and global air pollution. BC is derived from many different sources, predominantly anthropogenic, such as incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. BC is known to cause health issues and premature death. BC is also a climate-forcing compound that can contribute to global warming. For these reasons, BC is a clear and rising issue globally, regionally and nationally.

In our Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA),, project funded by the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), , we have been collecting BC on fine filters for 15 years and involving 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Two databases have been published: 1) the Asia-Pacific Aerosol Database (APAD) containing elemental concentration and associated error and minimum detectable limits (MDL) for 14,016 APM samples collected between 2002 and 2015 and 2) the Asia-Pacific Source Fingerprint Database (ASFID), contains receptor source fingerprints and source apportionment solutions obtained by each country from their APAD dataset using positive matrix factorisation (PMF) methods. The databases provide a valuable resource not only to pollution regulators but the wider aerosol and health researcher community [1,2].

Our presentation will present regional capabilities to analyse and interpret BC measurements across the RCA region. Linking those to climate change is the ultimate goal. This presentation will also cover a range of topics and objectives of successive projects at the RCA in air particulate matter science from 2000 to 2018.

[1] The APAD and ASFID: Long-term fine and coarse ambient particulate matter and source fingerprint databases for the Asia-Pacific region. Air Quality and Climate Change 50 (3), (2016) 41. [PDF] from


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