Contemporary sources dominate carbonaceous aerosol on the North Slope of Alaska

TitleContemporary sources dominate carbonaceous aerosol on the North Slope of Alaska
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsMoffett, CE, Mehra, M, Barrett, TE, Gunsch, MJ, Pratt, KA, Sheesley, RJ
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Date PublishedJan-07-2022

As the Arctic continues to change and warm rapidly, it is increasingly important to understand the organic carbon (OC) contribution to Arctic aerosol. Biogenic sources of primary and secondary OC in the Arctic will be impacted by climate change, including warming temperatures and earlier snow and ice melt. This study focuses on identifying potential sources and regional influences on the seasonal concentration of organic aerosol through analysis of chemical and isotopic composition. Aerosol samples were collected at two sites on the North Slope of Alaska (Utqiaġvik, UQK, and Oliktok Point, OLK, which is in an Arctic oilfield) over three summers from 2015 to 2017. The elemental carbon (EC) trends at each site were used to understand local combustion influences. Local sources drove EC concentrations at Oliktok Point, where high EC was attributed to oil and gas extraction activity, including diesel combustion emissions. Utqiaġvik had very low EC in the summer. OC was more similar in concentration and well correlated between the two sites with high contributions of contemporary carbon by radiocarbon apportionment (UQK = 74%, OLK = 63%), which could include both marine and terrestrial sources of contemporary carbon (e.g. primary and secondary biogenic, biomass burning and/or associated SOA, and bioaerosols). OC concentrations are strongly correlated to maximum ambient temperatures on the NSA during the summer, which may have implications for predicting future OC aerosol concentrations in a warming Arctic. Biomass burning was determined to be an episodic influence at both sites, based on interpretation of combined aerosol composition, air mass trajectories, and remote sensing of smoke plumes. The results from this study overall strongly suggests contribution from regional sources of contemporary organic aerosol on the NSA, but additional analysis is needed to better constrain contributions from both biogenic sources (terrestrial and/or marine) and bioaerosol to better understand temperature-related aerosol processes in the Arctic.