Hidden black carbon air pollution in hilly rural areas. A case study of dinaric depression
- hidden geographies, local air pollution, diurnal variation, biomass burning, relief depressions, Loški Potok, Slovenia
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Copyright (c) 2022 European Journal of Geography
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Air pollution is not an exclusively urban problem as wood burning is a widespread practice in rural areas. As we lack information on the air quality situation in rural mountainous regions, our aim is to examine equivalent black carbon (eBC) pollution in a typical rural karst area in the settlement of Loški Potok (Slovenia). eBC mass concentrations were measured by Aethalometer (AE-33) at two sites in Retje karst depression. The rural village station was located at the bottom of the karst depression whereas the rural background station was positioned at the top of the hill. We show the diurnal variation of equivalent black carbon mass concentrations for different seasons. In the populated karst depression, the major source of eBC pollution are households using wood as a heating fuel reaching the highest mass concentrations in winter. Diurnal pattern of eBC from biomass burning and traffic differ due to different source activity and it is influenced by typical formation of a cold air pool from late afternoon until late morning, restricting the dispersion of local emissions. The large difference in mass concentrations between the lowest part of the village (rural station) and the top of the hill (rural background station) indicates that in a vertically stratified and stable atmosphere local sources of black carbon have a major impact on air quality conditions in the area studied. Since in Alpine and Dinaric regions there are many similar inhabited areas, we can expect similar air quality conditions also in other rural hilly areas with limited self-cleaning air capacity.