Articles | Volume 12, issue 24
Research article
17 Dec 2012
Research article |  | 17 Dec 2012

Asian dust storm observed at a rural mountain site in southern China: chemical evolution and heterogeneous photochemistry

W. Nie, T. Wang, L. K. Xue, A. J. Ding, X. F. Wang, X. M. Gao, Z. Xu, Y. C. Yu, C. Yuan, Z. S. Zhou, R. Gao, X. H. Liu, Y. Wang, S. J. Fan, S. Poon, Q. Z. Zhang, and W. X. Wang

Abstract. Heterogeneous processes on dust particles are important for understanding the chemistry and radiative balance of the atmosphere. This paper investigates an intense Asian dust storm episode observed at Mount Heng (1269 m a.s.l.) in southern China on 24–26 April 2009. A set of aerosol and trace gas data collected during the study was analyzed to investigate their chemical evolution and heterogeneous photochemistry as the dust traveled to southern China. Results show that the mineral dust arriving at Mt. Heng experienced significant modifications during transport, with large enrichments in secondary species (sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium) compared with the dust composition collected at an upwind mountain top site (Mount Hua). A photochemical age "clock" (−Log10(NOx/NOy)) was employed to quantify the atmospheric processing time. The result indicates an obvious increase in the abundance of secondary water-soluble ions in dust particles with the air mass atmospheric processing time. Based on the observations, a 4-stage evolution process is proposed for carbonate-containing Asian dust, starting from fresh dust to particles coated with hydrophilic and acidic materials. Daytime-enhanced nitrite formation on the dust particles was also observed, which indicates the recent laboratory result of the TiO2 photocatalysis of NO2 as a potential source of nitrite and nitrous acid.

Final-revised paper