Articles | Volume 12, issue 21
Research article
08 Nov 2012
Research article |  | 08 Nov 2012

Amino acids in Arctic aerosols

E. Scalabrin, R. Zangrando, E. Barbaro, N. M. Kehrwald, J. Gabrieli, C. Barbante, and A. Gambaro

Abstract. Amino acids are significant components of atmospheric aerosols, affecting organic nitrogen input to marine ecosystems, atmospheric radiation balance, and the global water cycle. The wide range of amino acid reactivities suggest that amino acids may serve as markers of atmospheric transport and deposition of particles. Despite this potential, few measurements have been conducted in remote areas to assess amino acid concentrations and potential sources. Polar regions offer a unique opportunity to investigate atmospheric processes and to conduct source apportionment studies of such compounds. In order to better understand the importance of amino acid compounds in the global atmosphere, we determined free amino acids (FAAs) in seventeen size-segregated aerosol samples collected in a polar station in the Svalbard Islands from 19 April until 14 September 2010. We used an HPLC coupled with a tandem mass spectrometer (ESI-MS/MS) to analyze 20 amino acids and quantify compounds at fmol m−3 levels. Mean total FAA concentration was 1070 fmol m−3 where serine and glycine were the most abundant compounds in almost all samples and accounted for 45–60% of the total amino acid relative abundance. The other eighteen compounds had average concentrations between 0.3 and 98 fmol m−3. The higher amino acid concentrations were present in the ultrafine aerosol fraction (< 0.49 μm) and accounted for the majority of the total amino acid content. Local marine sources dominate the boreal summer amino acid concentrations, with the exception of the regional input from Icelandic volcanic emissions.

Final-revised paper