Articles | Volume 14, issue 20
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 11393–11407, 2014

Special issue: South AMerican Biomass Burning Analysis (SAMBBA)

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 11393–11407, 2014

Research article 29 Oct 2014

Research article | 29 Oct 2014

Airborne observations of IEPOX-derived isoprene SOA in the Amazon during SAMBBA

J. D. Allan1,2, W. T. Morgan1, E. Darbyshire1, M. J. Flynn1, P. I. Williams1,2, D. E. Oram3, P. Artaxo4, J. Brito4, J. D. Lee5, and H. Coe1 J. D. Allan et al.
  • 1School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, UK
  • 3Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences & National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 4Physics Institute, University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • 5National Centre for Atmospheric Science & Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory, University of York, UK

Abstract. Isoprene is a potentially highly significant but currently poorly quantified source of secondary organic aerosols (SOA). This is especially important in the tropics, where large rainforests act as significant sources of isoprene. Methylfuran, produced through thermal decomposition during analysis, has recently been suggested as a marker for isoprene SOA formation through the isoprene epoxydiol (IEPOX) route, which mostly occurs under low NOx conditions. This is manifested as a peak at m/z=82 in Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) data. Here we present a study of this marker measured during five flights over the Amazon rainforest on board the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurement (FAAM) BAe-146 research aircraft during the South American Biomass Burning Analysis (SAMBBA) campaign. Cases where this marker is and is not present are contrasted and linked to the presence of acidic seed particles, lower NOx concentrations and higher humidities. There are also data to suggest a role of organic nitrogen in the particulate composition. Furthermore, an inspection of the vertical trends of the marker indicates that concentrations are highest at the top of the boundary layer (possibly due to semivolatile repartitioning) and that upwards through the free troposphere, the mass spectral profile evolves towards that of low volatility oxygenated aerosol. These observations offer insights into the behaviour of IEPOX-derived SOA formation above the Amazon rainforest and the suitability of methylfuran as a marker for this process.

Final-revised paper