National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2000

Surface submicron aerosol chemical composition: What fraction is not sulfate?

Quinn, P.K., T.S. Bates, T.L. Miller, D.J. Coffman, J.E. Johnson, J.M. Harris, J.A. Ogren, G. Forbes, T.L. Anderson, D.S. Covert, and M.J. Rood

J. Geophys. Res., 105(D5), 6785–6805, doi: 10.1029/1999JD901034 (2000)

Measurements of submicron aerosol mass and the mass of major ionic components have been made over the past 5 years on cruises in the Pacific and Southern Oceans and at monitoring stations across North America (Barrow, Alaska; Cheeka Peak, Washington; Bondville, Illinois; and Sable Island, Nova Scotia). Reported here are submicron concentrations of aerosol mass, nonsea salt (nss) sulfate, sea salt, methanesulfonate, other nss inorganic ions, and residual, or chemically unanalyzed, mass. Residual mass concentrations are based on the difference between simultaneously measured aerosol mass and the mass of the major ionic components. A standardized sampling protocol was used for all measurements making the data from each location directly comparable. For the Pacific and Southern Oceans, concentrations of the chemical components are presented in zonally averaged 20° latitude bins. For the monitoring stations, mean concentrations are presented for distinct air mass types (marine, clean continental, and polluted based on air mass back trajectories). In addition, percentile information for each chemical component is given to indicate the variability in the measured concentrations. Mean nss sulfate submicron aerosol mass fractions for the different latitude bins of the Pacific ranged from 0.14 ± 0.01 to 0.34 ± 0.03 (arithmetic mean ± absolute uncertainty at the 95% confidence level). The lowest average value occurred in the 40°-60°S latitude band where nss sulfate concentrations were low due to the remoteness from continental sources and sea salt concentrations were relatively high. Mean nss sulfate aerosol mass fractions were more variable at the monitoring stations ranging from 0.13 ± 0.004 to 0.65 ± 0.02. Highest values occurred in polluted air masses at Bondville and Sable Island. Sea salt mean mass fractions ranged between 0.20 ± 0.02 and 0.53 ± 0.03 at all latitude bands of the Pacific (except 20°-40°N where the residual mass fraction was relatively high) and at Barrow. The concentration of residual mass was significant at the 95% confidence level at all stations and all Pacific latitude bands (assuming that all errors were random and normally distributed and contamination of the samples did not occur beyond that accounted for by storage and transport uncertainties). Mean residual mass fractions ranged from 0.09 ± 0.07 to 0.74 ± 0.04.

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