Articles | Volume 11, issue 16
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 8593–8606, 2011
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 8593–8606, 2011

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. Ceburnis1, A. Garbaras2, S. Szidat3, M. Rinaldi4, S. Fahrni3, N. Perron5,*, L. Wacker6, S. Leinert7, V. Remeikis2, M. C. Facchini4, A. S. H. Prevot5, S. G. Jennings1, M. Ramonet8, and C. D. O'Dowd1 D. Ceburnis et al.
  • 1School of Physics and Centre for Climate {&} Air Pollution Studies, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
  • 2Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, Institute of Physics, Vilnius, Lithuania
  • 3Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry & Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Berne, Switzerland
  • 4Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council, Bologna, Italy
  • 5Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen, Switzerland
  • 6Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 7Environmental Protection Agency of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  • 8Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environment (LSCE), Gif sur Yvette, France
  • *now at: Department of Nuclear Physics, University of Lund, Sweden

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