Real-time detection of highly oxidized organosulfates and BSOA marker compounds during the F-BEACh 2014 field study
Abstract. The chemical composition of ambient organic aerosols was analyzed using complementary mass spectrometric techniques during a field study in central Europe in July 2014 (Fichtelgebirge – Biogenic Emission and Aerosol Chemistry, F-BEACh 2014). Among several common biogenic secondary organic aerosol (BSOA) marker compounds, 93 acidic oxygenated hydrocarbons were detected with elevated abundances and were thus attributed to be characteristic for the organic aerosol mass at the site. Monoterpene measurements exhibited median mixing ratios of 1.6 and 0.8 ppbV for in and above canopy levels respectively. Nonetheless, concentrations for early-generation oxidation products were rather low, e.g., pinic acid (c = 4.7 (±2.5) ng m−3). In contrast, high concentrations were found for later-generation photooxidation products such as 3-methyl-1,2,3-butanetricarboxylic acid (MBTCA, c = 13.8 (±9.0) ng m−3) and 3-carboxyheptanedioic acid (c = 10.2 (±6.6) ng m−3), suggesting that aged aerosol masses were present during the campaign period. In agreement, HYSPLIT trajectory calculations indicate that most of the arriving air masses traveled long distances (> 1500 km) over land with high solar radiation.
In addition, around 47 % of the detected compounds from filter sample analysis contained sulfur, confirming a rather high anthropogenic impact on biogenic emissions and their oxidation processes. Among the sulfur-containing compounds, several organosulfates, nitrooxy organosulfates, and highly oxidized organosulfates (HOOS) were tentatively identified by high-resolution mass spectrometry. Correlations among HOOS, sulfate, and highly oxidized multifunctional organic compounds (HOMs) support the hypothesis of previous studies that HOOS are formed by reactions of gas-phase HOMs with particulate sulfate. Moreover, periods with high relative humidity indicate that aqueous-phase chemistry might play a major role in HOOS production. However, for dryer periods, coinciding signals for HOOS and gas-phase peroxyradicals (RO2•) were observed, suggesting RO2• to be involved in HOOS formation.