Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
Research article
01 Feb 2013
Research article |  | 01 Feb 2013

Organic molecular composition of marine aerosols over the Arctic Ocean in summer: contributions of primary emission and secondary aerosol formation

P. Q. Fu, K. Kawamura, J. Chen, B. Charrière, and R. Sempéré

Abstract. Organic molecular composition of marine aerosol samples collected during the MALINA cruise in the Arctic Ocean was investigated by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. More than 110 individual organic compounds were determined in the samples and were grouped into different compound classes based on the functionality and sources. The concentrations of total quantified organics ranged from 7.3 to 185 ng m−3 (mean 47.6 ng m−3), accounting for 1.8–11.0% (4.8%) of organic carbon in the marine aerosols. Primary saccharides were found to be dominant organic compound class, followed by secondary organic aerosol (SOA) tracers formed from the oxidation of biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as isoprene, α-pinene and β-caryophyllene. Mannitol, the specific tracer for airborne fungal spores, was detected as the most abundant organic species in the samples with a concentration range of 0.052–53.3 ng m−3 (9.2 ng m−3), followed by glucose, arabitol, and the isoprene oxidation products of 2-methyltetrols. Biomass burning tracers such as levoglucosan are evident in all samples with trace levels. On the basis of the tracer-based method for the estimation of fungal-spore OC and biogenic secondary organic carbon (SOC), we estimate that an average of 10.7% (up to 26.2%) of the OC in the marine aerosols was due to the contribution of fungal spores, followed by the contribution of isoprene SOC (mean 3.8%) and α-pinene SOC (2.9%). In contrast, only 0.19% of the OC was due to the photooxidation of β-caryophyllene. This study indicates that primary organic aerosols from biogenic emissions, both from long-range transport of mid-latitude aerosols and from sea-to-air emission of marine organics, as well as secondary organic aerosols formed from the photooxidation of biogenic VOCs are important factors controlling the organic chemical composition of marine aerosols in the Arctic Ocean.

Final-revised paper