Articles | Volume 15, issue 16
Research article
28 Aug 2015
Research article |  | 28 Aug 2015

Atmospheric black carbon and sulfate concentrations in Northeast Greenland

A. Massling, I. E. Nielsen, D. Kristensen, J. H. Christensen, L. L. Sørensen, B. Jensen, Q. T. Nguyen, J. K. Nøjgaard, M. Glasius, and H. Skov

Abstract. Measurements of equivalent black carbon (EBC) in aerosols at the high Arctic field site Villum Research Station (VRS) at Station Nord in North Greenland showed a seasonal variation in EBC concentrations with a maximum in winter and spring at ground level. Average measured concentrations were about 0.067 ± 0.071 for the winter and 0.011 ± 0.009 for the summer period. These data were obtained using a multi-angle absorption photometer (MAAP). A similar seasonal pattern was found for sulfate concentrations with a maximum level during winter and spring analyzed by ion chromatography. Here, measured average concentrations were about 0.485 ± 0.397 for the winter and 0.112 ± 0.072 for the summer period. A correlation between EBC and sulfate concentrations was observed over the years 2011 to 2013 stating a correlation coefficient of R2 = 0.72. This finding gives the hint that most likely transport of primary emitted BC particles to the Arctic was accompanied by aging of the aerosols through condensational processes. BC and sulfate are known to have only partly similar sources with respect to their transport pathways when reaching the high Arctic. Aging processes may have led to the formation of secondary inorganic matter and further transport of BC particles as cloud processing and further washout of particles is less likely based on the typically observed transport patterns of air masses arriving at VRS. Additionally, concentrations of EC (elemental carbon) based on a thermo-optical method were determined and compared to EBC measurements. EBC measurements were generally higher, but a correlation between EC and EBC resulted in a correlation coefficient of R2 = 0.64.

Model estimates of the climate forcing due to BC in the Arctic are based on contributions of long-range transported BC during spring and summer. The measured concentrations were here compared with model results obtained by the Danish Eulerian Hemispheric Model, DEHM. Good agreement between measured and modeled concentrations of both EBC/BC and sulfate was observed. Also, the correlation between BC and sulfate concentrations was confirmed based on the model results observed over the years 2011 to 2013 stating a correlation coefficient of R2 = 0.74. The dominant source is found to be combustion of fossil fuel with biomass burning as a minor, albeit significant source.

Short summary
Aerosols particles reach via long-range transport the high Arctic and have significant impacts on Arctic climate. This article demonstrates the comparison of measured and modeled aerosol mass concentrations for black carbon and sulfate particles at a high Arctic site. Based on the findings aging processes during transport seem to prolong the lifetimes of the two species and favor the possibility for their transport to the high Arctic.
Final-revised paper