EU Science Hub

Long-term trends in black carbon from biomass and fossil fuel combustion detected at the JRC atmospheric observatory in Ispra

The concentrations of equivalent black carbon deriving from biomass burning bb and fossil fuel combustion ff have been estimated based on measurements of the aerosol light attenuation at several wavelengths (from infrared to ultraviolet) performed at the atmospheric observatory of the Joint Research Centre located in Ispra (Northern Italy). The data shows repeated seasonal cycles from 2004 to 2016, which suggests that winter time wood burning for domestic heating is the main biomass burning activity in this area. The bb/ff ratio has increased on average by +5%/yr over the 2007 – 2016 period. We compared these measurement-derived data with CO2 emissions estimated from EDGAR relative to biomass burning for domestic heating and fossil fuel combustion for transport (Diesel) and residential heating (coal + oil) in the 0.4°x0.4° area centred on Ispra. The data shows an increase in CO2 emissions from biomass burning compared to fossil fuel combustion from 2004 to 2008, and a rather constant ratio since then. There is no obvious correlation between the concentrations of and the statistics on CO2 emissions from biofuel and fossil fuel combustion over the studied period. The impact of the economic crisis of 2009 on the use of biofuels for domestic heating cannot be rigorously demonstrated, neither from the measurement data nor from the emission inventory.