Articles | Volume 12, issue 11
07 Jun 2012
 | 07 Jun 2012

Aerosol and precipitation chemistry measurements in a remote site in Central Amazonia: the role of biogenic contribution

T. Pauliquevis, L. L. Lara, M. L. Antunes, and P. Artaxo

Abstract. In this analysis a 3.5 years data set of aerosol and precipitation chemistry, obtained in a remote site in Central Amazonia (Balbina, (1°55' S, 59°29' W, 174 m a.s.l.), about 200 km north of Manaus) is discussed. Aerosols were sampled using stacked filter units (SFU), which separate fine (d < 2.5 μm) and coarse mode (2.5 μm < d < 10.0 μm) aerosol particles. Filters were analyzed for particulate mass (PM), Equivalent Black Carbon (BCE) and elemental composition by Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE). Rainwater samples were collected using a wet-only sampler and samples were analyzed for pH and ionic composition, which was determined using ionic chromatography (IC). Natural sources dominated the aerosol mass during the wet season, when it was predominantly of natural biogenic origin mostly in the coarse mode, which comprised up to 81% of PM10. Biogenic aerosol from both primary emissions and secondary organic aerosol dominates the fine mode in the wet season, with very low concentrations (average 2.2 μg m-3). Soil dust was responsible for a minor fraction of the aerosol mass (less than 17%). Sudden increases in the concentration of elements as Al, Ti and Fe were also observed, both in fine and coarse mode (mostly during the April-may months), which we attribute to episodes of Saharan dust transport. During the dry periods, a significant contribution to the fine aerosols loading was observed, due to the large-scale transport of smoke from biomass burning in other portions of the Amazon basin. This contribution is associated with the enhancement of the concentration of S, K, Zn and BCE. Chlorine, which is commonly associated to sea salt and also to biomass burning emissions, presented higher concentration not only during the dry season but also for the April–June months, due to the establishment of more favorable meteorological conditions to the transport of Atlantic air masses to Central Amazonia. The chemical composition of rainwater was similar to those ones observed in other remote sites in tropical forests. The volume-weighted mean (VWM) pH was 4.90. The most important contribution to acidity was from weak organic acids. The organic acidity was predominantly associated with the presence of acetic acid instead of formic acid, which is more often observed in pristine tropical areas. Wet deposition rates for major species did not differ significantly between dry and wet season, except for NH4+, citrate and acetate, which had smaller deposition rates during dry season. While biomass burning emissions were clearly identified in the aerosol component, it did not present a clear signature in rainwater. The biogenic component and the long-range transport of sea salt were observed both in aerosols and rainwater composition. The results shown here indicate that in Central Amazonia it is still possible to observe quite pristine atmospheric conditions, relatively free of anthropogenic influences.

Final-revised paper