Intercomparison of Measurement Techniques for Black or Elemental Carbon Under Urban Background Conditions in Wintertime: Influence of Biomass Combustion

A generally accepted method to measure black carbon (BC) or elemental carbon (EC) still does not exist. An earlier study in the Vienna area comparing practically all measurement methods in use in Europe gave comparable BC and EC concentrations under summer conditions (Hitzenberger et al., 2006a). Under summer conditions, Diesel traffic is the major source for EC or BC in Vienna. Under winter conditions, space heating (also with biomass as fuel) is another important source (Caseiro et al., 2007). The present study compares the response of thermal methods (a modified Cachier method, Cachier et al., 1989; a thermal-optical method, Schmid et al., 2001; and two thermal-optical (TOT) methods using Sunset instruments, Birch and Cary, 1996 and Schauer et al., 2003) and optical methods (a light transmission method, Hansen et al., 1984; the integrating sphere method, Hitzenberger et al., 1996; and the multiangle absorption photometer MAAP, Petzold and Schönlinner, 2004). Significant differences were found between the TOT methods on the one hand and all other methods on the other. The TOT methods yielded EC concentrations that were lower by 44 and 17% than the average of all measured concentrations (including the TOT data). The largest discrepancy was found when the contribution of brown carbon (measured with the integrating sphere method) was largest.