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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Aerosol characteristics and sources for the Amazon Basin during the wet season

Authors

  • Paulo Artaxo,

  • Willy Maenhaut,

  • Hedwig Storms,

  • René Van Grieken


Abstract

As a part of the NASA Global Tropospheric Experiment (GTE), aerosols were sampled in the tropical rain forest of the Amazon Basin during the Amazon Boundary Layer Experiment (ABLE 2B) in April and May 1987, in the wet season, when no forest burning occurs. Fine (dp < 2.0 μm) and coarse (2.0 < dp < 15 μm) aerosol fractions were collected using stacked filter units, at three sites under the forest canopy and at three levels of a tower inside the jungle. Particle-induced X ray emission (PIXE) was used to measure concentrations of 22 elements (Na, Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Br, Rb, Sr, Zr, and Pb). Morphological and trace element measurements of individual particles were carried out by automated electron probe X ray microanalysis. Gravimetric analysis was performed to obtain the fine and coarse aerosol mass concentration. Absolute factor analysis was used to interpret the large data set of the trace element concentrations and to obtain elemental source profiles. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to derive groups of individual particles. The concentrations of soil dust related elements (Al, Si, Ti, Fe, Mn) were 5 times larger in the wet season compared to the 1985 ABLE 2A dry season experiment. Biogenic aerosol related elements in the fine fraction showed lower concentrations in the wet season. Fine aerosol mass concentration averaged only 2.1±0.7 μg m−3, while the average coarse mass concentration was 6.1±1.8 μg m −3. Sulphur concentrations averaged 76±14 ng m −3 in the fine fraction and 37±9 ng m −3 in the coarse fraction. Biogenic aerosol-related elements were dominant under the forest canopy, while soil dust dominated at the top of the forest canopy. Only two factors explained about 90% of the data variability for the fine and coarse aerosol fractions. These were soil dust (represented mainly by Al, Si, Ti, Mn, and Fe) and biogenic aerosol (represented by K, P, Cl, S, Zn, and the aerosol mass concentration). Source profiles showed a homogeneous aerosol distribution with similar elemental compositions at the different sampling sites. Enrichment factor calculations revealed a soil dust elemental profile similar to the average bulk soil composition, and a biogenic component similar to the plant bulk elemental composition. Total aerosol mass source apportionment showed that biogenic particles account for 55–95% of the airborne concentrations. The analysis of individual aerosol particles showed that the biogenic particles consist of leaf fragments, pollen grains, fungi, algae, and other types of particles. Several groups of particles with K, Cl, P, S, and Ca as minor elements could easily be identified as biogenic particles on the basis of their morphology. Considering the vast area of tropical rain forests and the concentrations measured in this work, it is possible that biogenic particles can play an important role in the global aerosol budget and in the global biogeochemical cycles of various elements.

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