Articles | Volume 10, issue 19
05 Oct 2010
 | 05 Oct 2010

Polar organic marker compounds in atmospheric aerosols during the LBA-SMOCC 2002 biomass burning experiment in Rondônia, Brazil: sources and source processes, time series, diel variations and size distributions

M. Claeys, I. Kourtchev, V. Pashynska, G. Vas, R. Vermeylen, W. Wang, J. Cafmeyer, X. Chi, P. Artaxo, M. O. Andreae, and W. Maenhaut

Abstract. Measurements of polar organic marker compounds were performed on aerosols that were collected at a pasture site in the Amazon basin (Rondônia, Brazil) using a high-volume dichotomous sampler (HVDS) and a Micro-Orifice Uniform Deposit Impactor (MOUDI) within the framework of the 2002 LBA-SMOCC (Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazônia – Smoke Aerosols, Clouds, Rainfall, and Climate: Aerosols From Biomass Burning Perturb Global and Regional Climate) campaign. The campaign spanned the late dry season (biomass burning), a transition period, and the onset of the wet season (clean conditions). In the present study a more detailed discussion is presented compared to previous reports on the behavior of selected polar marker compounds, including levoglucosan, malic acid, isoprene secondary organic aerosol (SOA) tracers and tracers for fungal spores. The tracer data are discussed taking into account new insights that recently became available into their stability and/or aerosol formation processes. During all three periods, levoglucosan was the most dominant identified organic species in the PM2.5 size fraction of the HVDS samples. In the dry period levoglucosan reached concentrations of up to 7.5 μg m−3 and exhibited diel variations with a nighttime prevalence. It was closely associated with the PM mass in the size-segregated samples and was mainly present in the fine mode, except during the wet period where it peaked in the coarse mode. Isoprene SOA tracers showed an average concentration of 250 ng m−3 during the dry period versus 157 ng m−3 during the transition period and 52 ng m−3 during the wet period. Malic acid and the 2-methyltetrols exhibited a different size distribution pattern, which is consistent with different aerosol formation processes (i.e., gas-to-particle partitioning in the case of malic acid and heterogeneous formation from gas-phase precursors in the case of the 2-methyltetrols). The 2-methyltetrols were mainly associated with the fine mode during all periods, while malic acid was prevalent in the fine mode only during the dry and transition periods, and dominant in the coarse mode during the wet period. The sum of the fungal spore tracers arabitol, mannitol, and erythritol in the PM2.5 fraction of the HVDS samples during the dry, transition, and wet periods was, on average, 54 ng m−3, 34 ng m−3, and 27 ng m−3, respectively, and revealed minor day/night variation. The mass size distributions of arabitol and mannitol during all periods showed similar patterns and an association with the coarse mode, consistent with their primary origin. The results show that even under the heavy smoke conditions of the dry period a natural background with contributions from bioaerosols and isoprene SOA can be revealed. The enhancement in isoprene SOA in the dry season is mainly attributed to an increased acidity of the aerosols, increased NOx concentrations and a decreased wet deposition.

Final-revised paper