Processing of biomass-burning aerosol in the eastern Mediterranean during summertime
Abstract. The aerosol chemical composition in air masses affected by wildfires from the Greek islands of Chios, Euboea and Andros, the Dalmatian Coast and Sicily, during late summer of 2012 was characterized at the remote background site of Finokalia, Crete. Air masses were transported several hundreds of kilometers, arriving at the measurement station after approximately half a day of transport, mostly during nighttime. The chemical composition of the particulate matter was studied by different high-temporal-resolution instruments, including an aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM) and a seven-wavelength aethalometer. Despite the large distance from emission and long atmospheric processing, a clear biomass-burning organic aerosol (BBOA) profile containing characteristic markers is derived from BC (black carbon) measurements and positive matrix factorization (PMF) analysis of the ACSM organic mass spectra. The ratio of fresh to aged BBOA decreases with increasing atmospheric processing time and BBOA components appear to be converted to oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA). Given that the smoke was mainly transported overnight, it appears that the processing can take place in the dark. These results show that a significant fraction of the BBOA loses its characteristic AMS (aerosol mass spectrometry) signature and is transformed to OOA in less than a day. This implies that biomass burning can contribute almost half of the organic aerosol mass in the area during periods with significant fire influence.