Articles | Volume 16, issue 8
Research article
26 Apr 2016
Research article |  | 26 Apr 2016

Biogenic, anthropogenic and sea salt sulfate size-segregated aerosols in the Arctic summer

Roya Ghahreman, Ann-Lise Norman, Jonathan P. D. Abbatt, Maurice Levasseur, and Jennie L. Thomas

Abstract. Size-segregated aerosol sulfate concentrations were measured on board the Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Amundsen in the Arctic during July 2014. The objective of this study was to utilize the isotopic composition of sulfate to address the contribution of anthropogenic and biogenic sources of aerosols to the growth of the different aerosol size fractions in the Arctic atmosphere. Non-sea-salt sulfate is divided into biogenic and anthropogenic sulfate using stable isotope apportionment techniques. A considerable amount of the average sulfate concentration in the fine aerosols with a diameter  <  0.49 µm was from biogenic sources (>  63 %), which is higher than in previous Arctic studies measuring above the ocean during fall (<  15 %) (Rempillo et al., 2011) and total aerosol sulfate at higher latitudes at Alert in summer (>  30 %) (Norman et al., 1999). The anthropogenic sulfate concentration was less than that of biogenic sulfate, with potential sources being long-range transport and, more locally, the Amundsen's emissions. Despite attempts to minimize the influence of ship stack emissions, evidence from larger-sized particles demonstrates a contribution from local pollution.

A comparison of δ34S values for SO2 and fine aerosols was used to show that gas-to-particle conversion likely occurred during most sampling periods. δ34S values for SO2 and fine aerosols were similar, suggesting the same source for SO2 and aerosol sulfate, except for two samples with a relatively high anthropogenic fraction in particles  <  0.49 µm in diameter (15–17 and 17–19 July). The high biogenic fraction of sulfate fine aerosol and similar isotope ratio values of these particles and SO2 emphasize the role of marine organisms (e.g., phytoplankton, algae, bacteria) in the formation of fine particles above the Arctic Ocean during the productive summer months.

Short summary
Aerosols in six size fractions (> 0.49–7.0 microns) were collected in the Arctic (July 2014). The isotopic composition of sulfate aerosols was measured to determine the role of biogenic and anthropogenic sources in the growth of aerosols. More than 63 % of the average sulfate concentration in the fine aerosols (> 0.49 microns) was from biogenic sources. For some samples, the S isotope ratio values for SO2 and fine aerosols were close together, suggesting the same source for SO2 and aerosol sulfur.
Final-revised paper