Mass spectral characterization of submicron biogenic organic particles in the Amazon Basin

Q. Chen, D. K. Farmer, J. Schneider, S. R. Zorn, C. L. Heald, T. G. Karl, A. Guenther, J. D. Allan, N. Robinson, H. Coe, J. R. Kimmel, T. Pauliquevis, S. Borrmann, U. Pöschl, M. O. Andreae, P. Artaxo, J. L. Jimenez, S. T. Martin

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    Submicron atmospheric particles in the Amazon Basin were characterized by a high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometer during the wet season of 2008. Patterns in the mass spectra closely resembled those of secondary-organicaerosol (SOA) particles formed in environmental chambers from biogenic precursor gases. In contrast, mass spectral indicators of primary biological aerosol particles (PBAPs) were insignificant, suggesting that PBAPs contributed negligibly to the submicron fraction of particles during the period of study. For 40% of the measurement periods, the mass spectra indicate that in-Basin biogenic SOA production was the dominant source of the submicron mass fraction, contrasted to other periods (30%) during which out-of-Basin organic-carbon sources were significant on top of the baseline in-Basin processes. The in-Basin periods had an average organic-particle loading of 0.6 μg m-3 and an average elemental oxygen-to-carbon (O:C) ratio of 0.42, compared to 0.9 μg m -3 and 0.49, respectively, during periods of out-of-Basin influence. On the basis of the data, we conclude that most of the organic material composing submicron particles over the Basin derived from biogenic SOA production, a finding that is consistent with microscopy observations made in a concurrent study. This source was augmented during some periods by aged organic material delivered by long-range transport. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberL20806
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Issue number20
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


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