National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2000

Aerosol physical properties and processes in the lower marine boundary layer: A comparison of shipboard sub-micron data from ACE-1 and ACE-2

Bates, T.S., P.K. Quinn, D.S. Covert, D.J. Coffman, J.E. Johnson, and A. Wiedensohler

Tellus, 52B(2), 258–272, doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0889.2000.00021.x (2000)

The goals of the IGAC Aerosol Characterization Experiments (ACE) are to determine and understand the properties and controlling processes of the aerosol in a globally representative range of natural and anthropogenically perturbed environments. ACE-1 was conducted in the remote marine atmosphere south of Australia while ACE-2 was conducted in the anthropogenically modified atmosphere of the Eastern North Atlantic. In-situ shipboard measurements from the RV Discoverer (ACE-1) and the RV Professor Vodyanitskiy (ACE-2), combined with calculated back trajectories can be used to define the physical properties of the sub-micron aerosol in marine boundary later (MBL) air masses from the remote Southern Ocean, Western Europe, the Iberian coast, the Mediterranean and the background Atlantic Ocean. The differences in these aerosol properties, combined with dimethylsulfide, sulfur dioxide and meteorological measurements provide a means to assess processes that affect the aerosol distribution. The background sub-micron aerosol measured over the Atlantic Ocean during ACE-2 was more abundant (number and volume) and appeared to be more aged than that measured over the Southern Ocean during ACE-1. Based on seawater DMS measurements and wind speed, the oceanic source of non-sea-salt sulfur and sea-salt to the background marine atmosphere during ACE-1 and ACE-2 was similar. However, the synoptic meteorological pattern was quite different during ACE-1 and ACE-2. The frequent frontal passages during ACE-1 resulted in the mixing of nucleation mode particles into the marine boundary later from the free troposphere and relatively short aerosol residence times. In the more stable meteorological setting of ACE-2, a significant nucleation mode aerosol was observed in the MBL only for a half day period associated with a weak frontal system. As a result of the longer MBL aerosol residence times, the average background ACE-2 accumulation mode aerosol had a larger diameter and higher number concentration than during ACE-1. The sub-micron aerosol number size distributions in the air masses that passed over Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and coastal Portugal were distinctly different from each other and the background aerosol. The differences can be attributed to the age of the air mass and the degree of cloud processing.

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