Evidence for hygroscopic mineral dust particles from the Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation Experiment



[1] Two collocated, eight-stage rotating drum impactors were deployed at Trinidad Head (California) during the spring of 2002 as part of the Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation 2002 (ITCT 2K2) experiment. One of the samplers operated at ambient relative humidity while the other was operated at a relative humidity of 55%. The impaction substrates from these samplers were analyzed using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (SXRF) to provide continuous measurements of the size-resolved aerosol elemental composition with 3-hour time resolution. The aerosol elemental composition data identified three significant mineral dust episodes near the beginning of the time series. The backward air mass trajectory calculations from the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model and the PM10 to PM2.5 elemental mass ratios are consistent with the long-range transport of mineral dust from Asian sources. The data from the paired ambient relative humidity and low-relative-humidity samplers show that the aluminum, silicon, and iron elemental mass distributions are a function of relative humidity. In each case, the elemental mass distributions shifted toward smaller sizes as the relative humidity was reduced. This behavior indicates that the mineral dust transported from Asia to the west coast of the United States is somewhat hygroscopic upon its arrival. The hygroscopic nature of the aged mineral dust should increase its ability to nucleate cloud droplets (i.e., act as cloud condensation nuclei). Measurements of transported Asian mineral dust made at a high-elevation mountain site in Oregon (i.e., Crater Lake National Park) during the spring of 2002 show a strong correlation between the silicon and sulfur elemental mass concentrations. The ratio of calcium to sulfur makes it unlikely that this coarse sulfur is derived from gypsum (i.e., CaSO4). Instead, it indicates that the coarse mineral dust most likely accumulates sulfate coatings either near the source region or during transport across the Pacific Ocean.