Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Chemical signatures of aged Pacific marine air: Mixed layer and free troposphere as measured during PEM-West A


  • G. L. Gregory,

  • A. S. Bachmeier,

  • D. R. Blake,

  • B. G. Heikes,

  • D. C. Thornton,

  • A. R. Bandy,

  • J. D. Bradshaw,

  • Y. Kondo


The Pacific Ocean is one of the few remaining regions of the northern hemisphere that is relatively free of direct anthropogenic emissions. However, long-range transport of air pollutants is beginning to have a significant impact on the atmosphere over the Pacific. In September and October 1991, NASA conducted the Pacific Exploratory Mission-West A expedition to study the atmospheric chemistry and background budgets of key atmospheric trace species. Aircraft sampling centered on the northern Pacific, 0° to 40°N and 115° to 180°E. The paper summarizes the chemical signature of relatively well-aged Pacific marine air (residence time ≥10 days over the ocean). The chemical signatures show that marine air is not always devoid of continental influences. Aged marine air which circulates around the semipermanent subtropical anticyclone located off the Asian continent is influenced by infusion of continental air with anthropogenic emissions. The infusion occurs as the result of Asian outflow swept off the continent behind eastward moving cold fronts. When compared to aged marine air with a more southerly pathway, this infusion results in enhancements in the mixing ratio of many anthropogenic/continental species and typically those with lifetimes of weeks in the free troposphere. Less enhancement is seen for the short-lived species with lifetimes of a few days as infused continental emissions are depleted during transport (about a week) around the semipermanent subtropical high.