Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Seasonal characteristics of the physicochemical properties of North Atlantic marine atmospheric aerosols

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Abstract

[1] Seasonal physicochemical characteristics of North Atlantic marine aerosols are presented for the period from January 2002 to June 2004. The aerosol size distribution modal diameters show seasonal variations, 0.031 μm in winter and 0.049 μm in summer for the Aitken mode and 0.103 μm in winter and 0.177 μm in summer for the accumulation mode. The accumulation mode mass also showed a seasonal variation, minimum in winter and maximum in summer. A supermicron sized particle mode was found at 2 μm for all seasons showing 30% higher mass concentration during winter than summer resulting from higher wind speed conditions. Chemical analysis showed that the concentration of sea salt has a seasonal pattern, minimum in summer and maximum in winter because of a dependency of sea-salt load on wind speeds. By contrast, the non-sea-salt (nss) sulphate concentration in fine mode particles exhibited lower values during winter and higher values during midsummer. The water soluble organic carbon (WSOC) and total carbon (TC) analysis also showed a distinctive seasonal pattern. The WSOC concentration during the high biological activity period peaked at 0.2 μgC m−3, while it was lower than 0.05 μgC m−3 during the low biological activity period. The aerosol light scattering coefficient showed a minimum value of 5.5 Mm−1 in August and a maximum of 21 Mm−1 in February. This seasonal variation was due to the higher contribution of sea salt in the MBL during North Atlantic winter. By contrast, aerosols during late spring and summer exhibited larger angstrom parameters than winter, indicating a large contribution of the biogenically driven fine or accumulation modes. Seasonal characteristics of North Atlantic marine aerosols suggest an important link between marine aerosols and biological activity through primary production of marine aerosols.

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