Organosulfates and organic acids in Arctic aerosols: speciation, annual variation and concentration levels
Abstract. Sources, composition and occurrence of secondary organic aerosols in the Arctic were investigated at Zeppelin Mountain, Svalbard, and Station Nord, northeastern Greenland, during the full annual cycle of 2008 and 2010, respectively. Speciation of organic acids, organosulfates and nitrooxy organosulfates – from both anthropogenic and biogenic precursors were in focus. A total of 11 organic acids (terpenylic acid, benzoic acid, phthalic acid, pinic acid, suberic acid, azelaic acid, adipic acid, pimelic acid, pinonic acid, diaterpenylic acid acetate and 3-methyl-1,2,3-butanetricarboxylic acid), 12 organosulfates and 1 nitrooxy organosulfate were identified in aerosol samples from the two sites using a high-performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) coupled to a quadrupole Time-of-Flight mass spectrometer. At Station Nord, compound concentrations followed a distinct annual pattern, where high mean concentrations of organosulfates (47 ± 14 ng m−3) and organic acids (11.5 ± 4 ng m−3) were observed in January, February and March, contrary to considerably lower mean concentrations of organosulfates (2 ± 3 ng m−3) and organic acids (2.2 ± 1 ng m−3) observed during the rest of the year. At Zeppelin Mountain, organosulfate and organic acid concentrations remained relatively constant during most of the year at a mean concentration of 15 ± 4 ng m−3 and 3.9 ± 1 ng m−3, respectively. However during four weeks of spring, remarkably higher concentrations of total organosulfates (23–36 ng m−3) and total organic acids (7–10 ng m−3) were observed. Elevated organosulfate and organic acid concentrations coincided with the Arctic haze period at both stations, where northern Eurasia was identified as the main source region. Air mass transport from northern Eurasia to Zeppelin Mountain was associated with a 100% increase in the number of detected organosulfate species compared with periods of air mass transport from the Arctic Ocean, Scandinavia and Greenland. The results from this study suggested that the presence of organic acids and organosulfates at Station Nord was mainly due to long-range transport, whereas indications of local sources were found for some compounds at Zeppelin Mountain. Furthermore, organosulfates contributed significantly to organic matter throughout the year at Zeppelin Mountain (annual mean of 13 ± 8%) and during Arctic haze at Station Nord (7 ± 2%), suggesting organosulfates to be important compounds in Arctic aerosols.