Articles | Volume 11, issue 7
Research article
01 Apr 2011
Research article |  | 01 Apr 2011

Latitudinal distributions of organic nitrogen and organic carbon in marine aerosols over the western North Pacific

Y. Miyazaki, K. Kawamura, J. Jung, H. Furutani, and M. Uematsu

Abstract. Marine aerosol samples were collected over the western North Pacific along the latitudinal transect from 44° N to 10° N in late summer 2008 for measurements of organic nitrogen (ON) and organic carbon (OC) as well as isotopic ratios of total nitrogen (TN) and total carbon (TC). Increased concentrations of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) and diethylammonium (DEA+) at 40–44° N and subtropical regions (10–20° N) together with averaged satellite chlorophyll-a data and 5-day back trajectories suggest a significant influence of marine biological activities on aerosols in these regions. ON exhibited increased concentrations up to 260 ngN m−3 in these marine biologically influenced aerosols. Water-insoluble organic nitrogen (WION) was found to be the most abundant nitrogen in the aerosols, accounting for 55 ± 16% of total aerosol nitrogen. In particular, the average WION/ON ratio was as high as 0.93 ± 0.07 at 40–44° N. These results suggest that marine biological sources significantly contributed to ON, a majority of which is composed of water-insoluble fractions in the study region. Analysis of the stable carbon isotopic ratios (δ13C) indicated that, on average, marine-derived carbon accounted for ~88 ± 12% of total carbon in the aerosols. In addition, the δ13C showed higher values (from −22 to −20‰) when ON/OC ratios increased from 0.15 to 0.35 in marine biologically influenced aerosols. These results clearly show that organic nitrogen is enriched in organic aerosols originated from an oceanic region with high biological productivity, indicating a preferential transfer of nitrogen-containing organic compounds from the sea surface to the marine atmosphere. Both WION concentrations and WION/water-insoluble organic carbon (WIOC) ratios tended to increase with increasing local wind speeds, indicating that sea-to-air emissions of ON via sea spray contribute significantly to the marine organic aerosols over the study region.

Final-revised paper