Special Issue on Carbonaceous Aerosols in the Atmosphere (IV)

Maji Smaran, V. Vinoj  

School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Science Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar, 752050, Odisha, India

Received: December 28, 2023
Revised: May 9, 2024
Accepted: May 10, 2024

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.230300  

Cite this article:

Smaran, M., Vinoj, V. (2024). Evaluation of Background Black Carbon Concentration in India. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 24, 230300. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.230300


  • Background black carbon (BC) aerosols constitutes higher than 75% over India annually.
  • Ground and reanalysis based background BC mass fraction matches well.
  • Removal of background reveals spatial patterns similar to BC emission inventories.


Air pollution levels are rapidly increasing over the Indian region in recent times impacting the health and welfare of the general population of which black carbon (BC) is an important component. Significant efforts are being made to reduce pollution levels focusing on highly polluted cities. It is qualitatively known that a significant background BC pollution load exists over the Indian region. However, no systematic studies have focused on scientifically quantifying them. In this study, an effort is made to understand and segregate BC, an important primary aerosol/air pollutant, into the background (the minimum concentration levels that exist due to regional and long-range transport) and foreground concentrations (local emissions) using a simple methodology. The method is evaluated for consistency using ground-based observations (BC from Aethalometer) and extended to the whole Indian region using chemical reanalysis datasets (MERRA-2, Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2). Our analysis reveals that the background BC over India reaches its highest during the winter season, 2.32 µg m–3 (background BC ~86%), and its lowest during the monsoon season, 0.60 µg m–3 (background BC ~79%). Furthermore, regardless of the season, the level of background BC in India exceeds 75% consistently. An independent evaluation of foreground BC after the removal of the background shows major emissions sources similar to the HTAP_v3 (Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution) BC emission database, indicating the strength of the analysis. The high degree of qualitative agreement between foreground BC concentration and BC emission sources provides confidence in the analysis. These findings will provide policymakers with a valuable perspective, emphasizing the significant influence of background BC aerosol pollution in India.

Keywords: Air pollution, Air quality, Atmospheric aerosols, Carbonaceous aerosols, Regional air quality

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