- Journal Article
Abstract: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a global hot spot for aerosol emissions, which affect the regional climate and air quality. In this paper, we use ground-based observations to address the large uncertainties in the source-resolved emission estimation of carbonaceous aerosols. Ambient fine fraction aerosol was collected on filters at the high-altitude (2590 m a.s.l.) Rwanda Climate Observatory (RCO), a SSA background site, during the dry and wet seasons in 2014 and 2015. The concentrations of both the carbonaceous and inorganic ion components show a strong seasonal cycle, with highly elevated concentrations during the dry season. Source marker ratios, including carbon isotopes, show that the wet and dry seasons have distinct aerosol compositions. The dry season is characterized by elevated amounts of biomass burning products, which approach ∼95 % for carbonaceous aerosols. An isotopic mass-balance estimate shows that the amount of the carbonaceous aerosol stemming from savanna fires may increase from 0.2 µg m−3 in the wet season up to 10 µg m−3 during the dry season. Based on these results, we quantitatively show that savanna fire is the key modulator of the seasonal aerosol composition variability at the RCO.