Evolution of Asian aerosols during transpacific transport in INTEX-B
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.