Articles | Volume 11, issue 16
Research article
23 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 23 Aug 2011

Quantification of the carbonaceous matter origin in submicron marine aerosol by 13C and 14C isotope analysis

D. Ceburnis, A. Garbaras, S. Szidat, M. Rinaldi, S. Fahrni, N. Perron, L. Wacker, S. Leinert, V. Remeikis, M. C. Facchini, A. S. H. Prevot, S. G. Jennings, M. Ramonet, and C. D. O'Dowd

Abstract. Dual carbon isotope analysis of marine aerosol samples has been performed for the first time demonstrating a potential in organic matter apportionment between three principal sources: marine, terrestrial (non-fossil) and fossil fuel due to unique isotopic signatures. The results presented here, utilising combinations of dual carbon isotope analysis, provides conclusive evidence of a dominant biogenic organic fraction to organic aerosol over biologically active oceans. In particular, the NE Atlantic, which is also subjected to notable anthropogenic influences via pollution transport processes, was found to contain 80 % organic aerosol matter of biogenic origin directly linked to plankton emissions. The remaining carbonaceous aerosol was of terrestrial origin. By contrast, for polluted air advected out from Europe into the NE Atlantic, the source apportionment is 30 % marine biogenic, 40 % fossil fuel, and 30 % continental non-fossil fuel. The dominant marine organic aerosol source in the atmosphere has significant implications for climate change feedback processes.

Final-revised paper