Origin of C2–C5 dicarboxylic acids in the European atmosphere inferred from year-round aerosol study conducted at a west-east transect



[1] An atmospheric study of C2–C5 dicarboxylic acids was conducted over two years at seven sites located from the Azores to eastern continental European sites. The lowest concentrations of total C2–C5 diacids are observed at the Azores (Portugal) and at 4360 m elevation in the Alps (∼50 ng m−3), and the highest (400 ng m−3) are observed at the rural K-puszta site (Hungary). Quasi-absent at surface sites, the seasonal cycle of total diacids is characterized by a pronounced summer maximum at elevated sites, the highest summer level (510 ng m−3) being observed at the forested mountain site of Schauinsland (Germany). Whatever site and season, oxalic acid is always the most abundant diacid with a relative abundance higher than 60%. The climatology of C2–C5 diacids in Europe is discussed versus environmental conditions at sites (marine/continental, rural/forested, boundary layer/free troposphere, and winter/summer). Observations are used to discuss the possible sources of C2–C5 diacids, with special emphasis on their primary versus secondary and natural versus anthropogenic origin. At surface sites in winter, fast secondary productions in wood burning plumes in addition to secondary production from volatile organic carbon (VOC) species emitted by vehicles seem to be important contributors. In summer the impact of anthropogenic sources is weakened and biogenic emissions from vegetation (unsaturated fatty acids, isoprene, oxygenated VOCs, and eventually monoterpenes) likely represent major precursors of diacids. At the Azores, diacids are not only related to long-range transport from continents but also to marine biogenic emissions from phytoplankton, particularly in summer.