Articles | Volume 10, issue 20
27 Oct 2010
 | 27 Oct 2010

Analysis of the chemical composition of organic aerosol at the Mt. Sonnblick observatory using a novel high mass resolution thermal-desorption proton-transfer-reaction mass-spectrometer (hr-TD-PTR-MS)

R. Holzinger, A. Kasper-Giebl, M. Staudinger, G. Schauer, and T. Röckmann

Abstract. For the first time a high mass resolution thermal desorption proton transfer reaction mass spectrometer (hr-TD-PTR-MS) was deployed in the field to analyze the composition of the organic fraction of aerosols. We report on measurements from the remote Mt. Sonnblick observatory in the Austrian alps (3108 m a.s.l.) during a 7 week period in summer 2009. A total of 638 mass peaks in the range 18–392 Da were detected and quantified in aerosols. An empirical formula was tentatively attributed to 464 of these compounds by custom-made data analysis routines which consider compounds containing C, H, O, N, and S atoms. Most of the other (unidentified) compounds must contain other elements – most likely halogenated compounds. The mean total concentration of all detected compounds was 1.1 μg m−3. Oxygenated hydrocarbons constitute the bulk of the aerosol mass (75%) followed by organic nitrogen compounds (9%), inorganic compounds (mostly NH3, 8%), unidentified/halogenated (3.8%), hydrocarbons (2.7%), and organic sulfur compounds (0.8%). The measured O/C ratios are lower than expected and suggest a significant effect from charring. Organic carbon concentrations measured with TD-PTR-MS were about 25% lower than measurements on high volume filter samples.

Final-revised paper