Articles | Volume 11, issue 3
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 1039–1050, 2011

Special issue: OP3/ACES: Oxidant and particle photochemical processes above...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 1039–1050, 2011

Research article 04 Feb 2011

Research article | 04 Feb 2011

Evidence for a significant proportion of Secondary Organic Aerosol from isoprene above a maritime tropical forest

N. H. Robinson1, J. F. Hamilton2, J. D. Allan1,3, B. Langford4, D. E. Oram5, Q. Chen6, K. Docherty7,8, D. K. Farmer7,8, J. L. Jimenez7, M. W. Ward2, C. N. Hewitt4, M. H. Barley1, M. E. Jenkin9, A. R. Rickard10, S. T. Martin6, G. McFiggans1, and H. Coe1 N. H. Robinson et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth Atmospheric and Environmental Science, University of Manchester, UK
  • 2Department of Chemistry, University of York, UK
  • 3National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, UK
  • 4Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  • 5National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of East Anglia, UK
  • 6School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, USA
  • 7Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and CIRES, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, USA
  • 8Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, USA
  • 9Atmospheric Chemistry Services, Okehampton, UK
  • 10National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, UK

Abstract. Isoprene is the most abundant non-methane biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC), but the processes governing secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation from isoprene oxidation are only beginning to become understood and selective quantification of the atmospheric particulate burden remains difficult. Organic aerosol above a tropical rainforest located in Danum Valley, Borneo, Malaysia, a high isoprene emission region, was studied during Summer 2008 using Aerosol Mass Spectrometry and offline detailed characterisation using comprehensive two dimensional gas chromatography. Observations indicate that a substantial fraction (up to 15% by mass) of atmospheric sub-micron organic aerosol was observed as methylfuran (MF) after thermal desorption. This observation was associated with the simultaneous measurements of established gas-phase isoprene oxidation products methylvinylketone (MVK) and methacrolein (MACR). Observations of MF were also made during experimental chamber oxidation of isoprene. Positive matrix factorisation of the AMS organic mass spectral time series produced a robust factor which accounts for an average of 23% (0.18 μg m−3), reaching as much as 53% (0.50 μg m−3) of the total oraganic loading, identified by (and highly correlated with) a strong MF signal. Assuming that this factor is generally representative of isoprene SOA, isoprene derived aerosol plays a significant role in the region. Comparisons with measurements from other studies suggest this type of isoprene SOA plays a role in other isoprene dominated environments, albeit with varying significance.

Final-revised paper