Coastal New England pilot study to determine fossil and biogenic formaldehyde source contributions using radiocarbon

Authors


Abstract

[1] Compound specific radiocarbon analyses of atmospheric formaldehyde are reported as fraction modern (Fm) for a limited number of winter and summer air samples collected in coastal southern New England in 2007. The 11 of 13 samples with Fm < 0.2 were collected under the influence of the semipermanent Bermuda high-pressure system with transport from the Washington, D. C., to New York City urban corridor. The two samples with Fm > 0.2 (max ∼ 0.35) were collected on days with strong northwesterly flow and the least urban impact. The Fm data were combined with VOC observations from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, estimates of oxygenated VOC (OVOC), and back trajectories to interpret the relative contributions of biogenic and fossil carbon sources. It is argued that CH2O sources were dominated by pollutant VOCs and OVOCs from upwind coastal cities as opposed to more local biogenic VOCs at the times of sample collection.