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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  25 Mar 2020

25 Mar 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Quantifying Bioaerosol Concentrations in Dust Clouds through Online UV-LIF and Mass Spectrometry Measurements at the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory

Douglas Morrison1, Ian Crawford1, Nicholas Marsden1, Michael Flynn1, Katie Read2, Luis Neves2, Virginia Foot4, Paul Kaye3, Warren Stanley3, Hugh Coe1, David Topping1, and Martin Gallagher1 Douglas Morrison et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Manchester, Brunswick St, Manchester, M13 9PS
  • 2Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory, University of York, York, YO10 5DD
  • 3Science and Technology Research Institute, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
  • 4Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Salisbury, UK

Abstract. Observations of the long-range transport of biological particles in the tropics via dust vectors are now seen as fundamental to the understanding of many global atmosphere-oceanic biogeochemical cycles, changes in air quality, human health, ecosystem impacts, and climate. However, there is a lack of long-term measurements quantifying their presence in such conditions. Here we present annual observations of bioaerosol concentrations based on online ultraviolet light induced fluorescence (UV-LIF) spectrometry from the global WMO/Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) observatory on Sao Vicente Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory. We observe the expected strong seasonal changes in absolute concentrations of bioaerosols with significant enhancements during winter due to the strong island inflow of airmass, originating from the African continent. Monthly median bioaerosol concentrations as high as 45 L−1 were found with 95th percentile values exceeding 130 L−1 during strong dust events. However, in contrast the relative fraction of bioaerosol numbers compared to total dust number concentration shows little seasonal variation. Mean bioaerosol contributions accounted for 0.4 ± 0.2 % of total coarse aerosol concentrations, only rarely exceeding 1 % during particularly strong events under appropriate conditions. Although enhancements in the median bioaerosol fraction do occur in winter, they also occur at other times of the year, likely due to the enhanced Aeolian activity driving dust events at this time from different sources. We hypothesise that this indicates the relative contribution of bioaerosol material in dust transported across the tropical Atlantic throughout the year is relatively uniform, comprised mainly of mixtures of dust and bacteria and/or bacterial fragments. We argue that this hypothesis is supported from analysis of measurements also at Cape Verde just prior to the long-term monitoring experiment where UV-LIF single particle measurements were compared with Laser Ablation Aerosol Particle Time of Flight mass spectrometer (LAAP-ToF) measurements. These clearly show a very high correlation between particles with mixed bio-silicate mass spectral signatures and UV-LIF bio-fluorescent signatures suggesting the bioaerosol concentrations are dominated by these mixtures. These observations should assist with constraining bioaerosol concentrations for tropical Global Climate Model (GCM) simulations. Note here we use the term “bioaerosol” to include mixtures of dust and bacterial material.

Douglas Morrison et al.

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Douglas Morrison et al.

Douglas Morrison et al.


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Latest update: 27 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We provide conservative estimates of the concentrations of bacteria within trans-Atlantic dust clouds, originating from the African continent. We observe significant seasonal differences in the overall concentrations of particles, but no seasonal variation in the ratio between bacteria and dust. With bacteria contributing to ice formation at warmer temperatures than dust, our observations should improve the accuracy of climate models.
We provide conservative estimates of the concentrations of bacteria within trans-Atlantic dust...