Characterisation of carbonaceous aerosols from the Azorean Island of Terceira

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Abstract
Aerosol samples were collected from 2002 to 2003 in Terceira, one of the islands of the Azores archipelago in the north-eastern Atlantic. The atmospheric samples have been analysed for its carbonaceous content and for lipid class compounds. The major constituents that comprise plant wax are n-alkanes (C23–C33, with and odd-to-even carbon predominance and carbon maxima at 29 or 31), n-alkanols (C22–C30, even-to-odd) and n-alkanoic acids (C22–C30, even-to-odd), with minor amounts of n-alkanals and polycyclic biomarkers, such as phytosterols. Some alkanedioic acids and phthalates were also detected. The occurrence of short-chain homologues may indicate an additional marine source, probably introduced into the atmosphere via sea spray. Changes in the composition of the homologous series derived from terrestrial plants throughout the observation period may be related to alterations in the regional sources and transport pathways. These terrestrial lipids contributed up to 47% of the total compound mass, while the marine input was estimated to be inferior to 19%, both of them being more representative in summer. Biomass burning sources represented approximately 1% of the total inputs to the organic aerosol for the most part of the year, excepting during the spring, when it contributed to 10%. Petroleum products and plasticizers presented higher contributions (up to 19%) during the winter months. Secondary constituents resulting from oxidation during transport varied from 14% to 37% of the apportioned organic mass. The fraction derived from soil resuspension accounted for 2–16%.