Articles | Volume 16, issue 22
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 14621–14633, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 14621–14633, 2016

Research article 24 Nov 2016

Research article | 24 Nov 2016

Long-range atmospheric transport of volatile monocarboxylic acids with Asian dust over a high mountain snow site, central Japan

Tomoki Mochizuki1,a, Kimitaka Kawamura1,b, Kazuma Aoki2, and Nobuo Sugimoto3 Tomoki Mochizuki et al.
  • 1Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, N19 W8, Kita-ku Sapporo, 060-0819, Japan
  • 2Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Science, University of Toyama, 3190, Gofuku, Toyama 930-8555, Japan
  • 3National Institute of Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan
  • anow at: School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan
  • bnow at: Chubu Institute for Advanced Studies, Chubu University, 1200 Matsumoto-cho, Kasugai 487-8501, Japan

Abstract. To understand the long-range transport of monocarboxylic acids from the Asian continent to the Japanese islands, we collected snowpack samples from a pit sequence (depth ca. 6 m) at the Murodo-Daira snowfield near the summit of Mt. Tateyama, central Japan, in 2009 and 2011. Snow samples (n = 16) were analyzed for normal (C1–C10), branched chain (iC4–iC6), aromatic (benzoic and toluic acid isomers), and hydroxyl (glycolic and lactic) monocarboxylic acids, together with inorganic ions and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Acetic acid (C2) was found to be a dominant species (average 125 ng g−1), followed by formic acid (C1) (85.7 ng g−1) and isopentanoic acid (iC5) (20.0 ng g−1). We found a strong correlation (r =  0.88) between formic plus acetic acids and non-sea-salt Ca2+ that is a proxy of Asian dust. Contributions of total monocarboxylic acids to DOC in 2009 (21.2 ± 11.6 %) were higher than that in 2011 (3.75 ± 2.62 %), being consistent with higher intensity of Asian dust in 2009 than in 2011. Formic plus acetic acids also showed a positive correlation (r =  0.90) with benzoic acid that is a tracer of automobile exhaust, indicating that monocarboxylic acids and their precursors are largely emitted from anthropogenic sources in China and/or secondarily produced in the atmosphere by photochemical processing. In addition, the ratio of formic plus acetic acids to nss–Ca2+ (0.27) was significantly higher than those (0.00036–0.0018) obtained for reference dust materials of Chinese loess deposits from the Tengger and Gobi deserts. This result suggests that volatile and semi-volatile organic acids are adsorbed on the alkaline dust particles during long-range atmospheric transport. Entrainment of organic acids by dusts is supported by a good correlation (r = 0.87) between formic plus acetic acids and pH of melt snow samples. Our study suggests that Asian alkaline dusts may be a carrier of volatile monocarboxylic acids.

Short summary
High abundances of formic and acetic acids in the snow pit samples (6 m in depth) collected at a snowfield site near Mt. Tateyama, central Japan. Formic and acetic acids are highly abundant in the snow, with dust layers in which Ca was enriched. We propose that alkaline metals in Asian dusts largely titrate gaseous organic acids during long-range atmospheric transport.
Final-revised paper