Elemental Carbon and Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds in a 150-Year Sediment Core from Lake Qinghai, Tibetan Plateau, China: Influence of Regional and Local Sources and Transport Pathways
journal contributionposted on 07.04.2015, 00:00 by Y. M. Han, C. Wei, B. A. M. Bandowe, W. Wilcke, J. J. Cao, B. Q. Xu, S. P. Gao, X. X. Tie, G. H. Li, Z. D. Jin, Z. S. An
Elemental carbon (EC) and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) are potential proxies for the reconstruction of change in human activities and the origin of air masses in historic times. In this study, the historic deposition of char and soot (the two subtypes of EC) and PACs in a 150-year sediment core from different topographic subbasins of Lake Qinghai on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau (QTP) were reconstructed. The objective was to explore how the variations in the concentrations of EC and PACs, in the ratios of char to soot and of oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (OPAHs) to parent PAHs, and in the composition of the PAC mixtures reflect historical changes in climate and human activity and the origin of air masses arriving at the QTP. The deposition fluxes of soot in the different subbasins were similar, averaging 0.18 (range of 0.15–0.25) and 0.16 (0.13–0.23) g m–2 year–1, respectively, but they varied for char (averaging 0.11 and 0.22 g m–2 year–1, respectively), suggesting ubiquitous atmospheric deposition of soot and local river inputs of char. The different vertical distributions of the char/soot ratios in the different subbasins can be interpreted in terms of the different transport mechanisms of char and soot. An abrupt increase in soot concentrations since 1980 coincides with results from the QTP ice cores that were interpreted to be indicative of soot transport from South Asia. Similar concentration patterns of PAHs with soot and 9,10-anthraquinone/anthracene (9,10-AQ/ANT) ratios all >2.0 suggest regional PAC sources. Increasing PAH/soot ratios and decreasing 9,10-AQ/ANT ratios since the beginning of the 1970s indicate increasing local emissions. The historical trends of these diagnostic ratios indicate an increase in the fossil-fuel contribution since the beginning of the 1970s. The increase of perylene concentrations with increasing core depth and the ratio of perylene to its penta-aromatic isomers indicate that perylene originates mainly from in situ biogenic diagenesis. We demonstrate that the concentrations of EC, char, soot, and PACs in sediments can be used to reconstruct local, regional, and remote sources and transport pathways of pollutants to the QTP.