Origin and radiative forcing of black carbon aerosol: Production and consumption perspectives

Jing Meng (Lead Author), Junfeng Liu, Kan Yi, Haozhe Yang, Dabo Guan, Zhu Liu, Jiachen Zhang, Jiamin Ou, Stephen Dorling, Zhifu Mi, Huizhong Shen, Qirui Zhong, Shu Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Air pollution, a threat to air quality and human health, has attracted ever-increasing attention in recent years. In addition to having local influence, air pollutants can also travel the globe via atmospheric circulation and international trade. Black carbon (BC), emitted from incomplete combustion, is a unique but representative particulate pollutant. This study tracked down the BC aerosol and its direct radiative forcing to the emission sources and final consumers using the global chemical transport model (MOZART-4), the rapid radiative transfer model for general circulation simulations (RRTM), and a multiregional input–output analysis (MRIO). BC was physically transported (i.e., atmospheric transport) from western to eastern countries in the midlatitude westerlies, but its magnitude is near an order of magnitude higher if the virtual flow embodied in international trade is considered. The transboundary effects on East and South Asia by other regions increased from about 3% (physical transport only) to 10% when considering both physical and virtual transport. The influence efficiency on East Asia was also large because of the comparatively large emission intensity and emission-intensive exports (e.g., machinery and equipment). The radiative forcing in Africa imposed by consumption from Europe, North America, and East Asia (0.01 Wm–2) was even larger than the total forcing in North America. Understanding the supply chain and incorporating both atmospheric and virtual transport may improve multilateral cooperation on air pollutant mitigation both domestically and internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6380-6389
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number11
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2018

Cite this