Articles | Volume 9, issue 19
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 7257–7287, 2009

Special issue: MILAGRO/INTEX-B 2006

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 7257–7287, 2009

  01 Oct 2009

01 Oct 2009

Evolution of Asian aerosols during transpacific transport in INTEX-B

E. J. Dunlea1, P. F. DeCarlo*,2,1, A. C. Aiken3,1, J. R. Kimmel1, R. E. Peltier4,**, R. J. Weber4, J. Tomlinson5,***, D. R. Collins5, Y. Shinozuka6, C. S. McNaughton6, S. G. Howell6, A. D. Clarke6, L. K. Emmons7, E. C. Apel7, G. G. Pfister7, A. van Donkelaar8, R. V. Martin9,8, D. B. Millet10, C. L. Heald11,****, and J. L. Jimenez3,1 E. J. Dunlea et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0216, USA
  • 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0311, USA
  • 3Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0215, USA
  • 4School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 5Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
  • 6Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA
  • 7National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000, USA
  • 8Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University Halifax, NS B3H 3J5, Canada
  • 9Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
  • 10Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
  • 11Department of Chemistry, University of California – Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • *now at: Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen-PSI, Switzerland
  • **now at: NYU School of Medicine, Tuxedo, NY 10987, USA
  • ***now at: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352, USA
  • ****now at: Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

Abstract. Measurements of aerosol composition were made with an Aerodyne High Resolution Time-of-Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) on board the NSF/NCAR C-130 aircraft as part of the Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment Phase B (INTEX-B) field campaign over the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The HR-ToF-AMS measurements of non-refractory submicron aerosol mass are shown to compare well with other aerosol instrumentation in the INTEX-B field study. Two case studies are described for pollution layers transported across the Pacific from the Asian continent, intercepted 3–4 days and 7–10 days downwind of Asia, respectively. Aerosol chemistry is shown to be a robust tracer for air masses originating in Asia, specifically the presence of sulfate dominated aerosol is a distinguishing feature of Asian pollution layers that have been transported to the Eastern Pacific. We examine the time scales of processing for sulfate and organic aerosol in the atmosphere and show that our observations confirm a conceptual model for transpacific transport from Asia proposed by Brock et al. (2004). Our observations of both sulfate and organic aerosol in aged Asian pollution layers are consistent with fast formation near the Asian continent, followed by washout during lofting and subsequent transformation during transport across the Pacific. Our observations are the first atmospheric measurements to indicate that although secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation from pollution happens on the timescale of one day, the oxidation of organic aerosol continues at longer timescales in the atmosphere. Comparisons with chemical transport models of data from the entire campaign reveal an under-prediction of organic aerosol mass in the MOZART model, but much smaller discrepancies with the GEOS-Chem model than found in previous studies over the Western Pacific. No evidence is found to support a previous hypothesis for significant secondary organic aerosol formation in the free troposphere.

Special issue
Final-revised paper