1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Antwerp (Campus Drie Eiken), Antwerp, Belgium
2Department of Analytical Chemistry, Institute for Nuclear Sciences, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
3Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
4Biogeochemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
*present address: Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM), European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Geel, Belgium
**present address: B. Verkin Institute for Low Temperature Physics and Engineering, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kharkov, Ukraine
***present address: Cordis Corporation, Analytical Technology, Spring House, PA, USA
Abstract. Measurements of polar organic marker compounds were performed on aerosols that were collected at a pasture site in the Amazon basin (Rondônia, Brazil) using a High-Volume dichotomous sampler (HVDS) and a Micro-Orifice Uniform Deposit Impactor (MOUDI). The samplings were conducted within the framework of the LBA-SMOCC (Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazônia – Smoke Aerosols, Clouds, Rainfall, and Climate: Aerosols From Biomass Burning Perturb Global and Regional Climate) campaign, which took place from 9 September till 14 November 2002, spanning the late dry season (biomass burning), the transition period, and the onset of the wet season (clean conditions). In the present study a more detailed discussion is presented compared to previous reports on the behavior of selected polar marker compounds, including: (a) levoglucosan, a tracer for biomass burning, (b) malic acid, a tracer for the oxidation of semivolatile carboxylic acids, (c) tracers for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from isoprene, i.e., the 2-methyltetrols (2-methylthreitol and 2-methylerythritol) and the C5-alkene triols [2-methyl-1,3,4-trihydroxy-1-butene (cis and trans) and 3-methyl-2,3,4-trihydroxy-1-butene], and (d) sugar alcohols (arabitol, mannitol, and erythritol), tracers for fungal spores. The results obtained for levoglucosan are covered first with the aim to address its contrasting behavior with that of malic acid, the isoprene SOA tracers, and the fungal spore tracers. The tracer data are discussed taking into account new insights that recently became available into their stability and/or aerosol formation processes. During all three periods, levoglucosan was the most dominant identified organic species in the PM2.5 size fraction of the HVDS samples. In the dry period levoglucosan reached concentrations of up to 7.5 μg m−3 and exhibited diel variations with a nighttime prevalence. It was closely associated with the PM mass in the size-segregated samples and was mainly present in the fine mode, except during the wet period where it peaked in the coarse mode. Isoprene SOA tracers showed an average concentration of 250 ng m−3 during the dry period versus 157 ng m−3 during the transition period and 52 ng m−3 during the wet period. Malic acid and the 2-methyltetrols exhibited a different size distribution pattern: while the 2-methyltetrols were mainly associated with the fine mode during all periods, malic acid was prevalent in the fine mode only during the dry and transition periods, while it was dominant in the coarse mode during the wet period, consistent with different formation processes. The sum of arabitol, mannitol, and erythritol in the PM2.5 fraction of the HVDS samples during the dry, transition, and wet periods was, on average, 54 ng m−3, 34 ng m−3, and 27 ng m−3, respectively, and revealed minor day/night variation. The mass size distributions of arabitol and mannitol during all periods showed similar patterns and an association with the coarse mode, consistent with their primary origin. The results show that even under the heavy smoke conditions of the dry period a natural background with contributions from bioaerosols and isoprene SOA can be revealed. The enhancement in isoprene SOA in the dry season is mainly attributed to an increased acidity of the aerosols and a decreased wet deposition.