Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Research article
23 Jun 2016
Research article |  | 23 Jun 2016

Contribution of dissolved organic matter to submicron water-soluble organic aerosols in the marine boundary layer over the eastern equatorial Pacific

Yuzo Miyazaki, Sean Coburn, Kaori Ono, David T. Ho, R. Bradley Pierce, Kimitaka Kawamura, and Rainer Volkamer

Abstract. Stable carbon isotopic compositions of water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) and organic molecular markers were measured to investigate the relative contributions of the sea surface sources to the water-soluble fraction of submicron organic aerosols collected over the eastern equatorial Pacific during the Tropical Ocean tRoposphere Exchange of Reactive halogens and Oxygenated VOCs (TORERO)/KA-12-01 cruise. On average, the water-soluble organic fraction of the total carbon (TC) mass in submicron aerosols was  ∼  30–35 % in the oceans with the low chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations, whereas it was  ∼  60 % in the high-Chl a regions. The average stable carbon isotope ratio of WSOC (δ13CWSOC) was −19.8 ± 2.0 ‰, which was systematically higher than that of TC (δ13CTC) (−21.8 ± 1.4 ‰). We found that in the oceans with both high and low Chl a concentrations the δ13CWSOC was close to the typical values of δ13C for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), ranging from −22 to −20 ‰ in surface seawater of the tropical Pacific Ocean. This suggests an enrichment of marine biological products in WSOC aerosols in the study region regardless of the oceanic area. In particular, enhanced levels of WSOC and biogenic organic marker compounds together with high values of WSOC / TC ( ∼  60 %) and δ13CWSOC were observed over upwelling areas and phytoplankton blooms, which was attributed to planktonic tissues being more enriched in δ13C. The δ13C analysis estimated that, on average, marine sources contribute  ∼  90 ± 25 % of the aerosol carbon, indicating the predominance of marine-derived carbon in the submicron WSOC. This conclusion is supported by Lagrangian trajectory analysis, which suggests that the majority of the sampling points on the ship had been exposed to marine boundary layer (MBL) air for more than 80 % of the time during the previous 7 days. The combined analysis of the δ13C and monosaccharides, such as glucose and fructose, demonstrated that DOC concentration was closely correlated with the concentration levels of submicron WSOC across the study region regardless of the oceanic area. The result implies that DOC may characterize background organic aerosols in the MBL over the study region.

Short summary
We conducted a WSOC-specific 13C analysis of submicron marine aerosols over the eastern equatorial Pacific for the first time. The analysis of 13C combined with monosaccharides provides evidence of a significant contribution of marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to submicron particles in the MBL regardless of the oceanic area. The study demonstrates that DOC is closely correlated with the submicron WSOC and implies that it may characterize background OA in the MBL over the study region.
Final-revised paper