Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 9801-9847, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Size resolved airborne particulate polysaccharides in summer high Arctic
C. Leck1, Q. Gao1,*, F. Mashayekhy Rad1,2, and U. Nilsson2
1Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
2Department of Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
*now at: Department of Chemistry, Umeå Universitet, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden

Abstract. Size-resolved aerosol samples for subsequent determination of polysaccharides (monosaccharides in combined form) were collected in air over the central Arctic Ocean during the biologically most active period between the late summer melt season and into the transition to autumn freeze-up. The analysis was carried out using liquid chromatography coupled with highly selective and sensitive tandem mass spectrometry. Polysaccharides were detected in all sizes ranging from 0.035 to 10 μm in diameter with distinct features of heteropolysaccharides, enriched in xylose, glucose + mannose as well as a substantial fraction of deoxysugars. Polysaccharides containing deoxysugars showed a bimodal structure with about 60% of their mass found in the Aitken mode over the pack ice area. Pentose (xylose) and hexose (glucose + mannose) showed a weaker bimodal character and were largely found in the coarse mode in addition to a minor fraction apportioned in the sub-micrometer size range. The concentration of total hydrolysable neutral sugars (THNS) in the samples collected varied over 3 orders of magnitude (1 to 692 pmol m−3) in the super-micrometer size fraction and to a lesser extent in sub-micrometer particles (4 to 88 pmol m−3). Lowest THNS concentrations were observed in air masses that had spent more than 5 days over the pack ice. Within the pack ice area, about 53% (by mass) of the total mass of polysaccharides were found in sub-micrometer particles. The relative abundance of sub-micrometer polysaccharides was closely related to the length of time that the air mass spent over pack ice, with highest fraction (> 90%) observed for > 7 days of advection. The ambient aerosol particles collected onboard ship showed similar monosaccharide composition, compared to particles generated experimentally in situ at the open lead site. This supports the existence of a primary source of particulate polysaccharides from open leads by bubble bursting at the air-sea interface. We speculate that the presence of biogenic polysaccharides, due to their surface active and hygroscopic nature, could play a potential role as cloud condensation nuclei in the pristine high Arctic.

Citation: Leck, C., Gao, Q., Mashayekhy Rad, F., and Nilsson, U.: Size resolved airborne particulate polysaccharides in summer high Arctic, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 9801-9847, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-9801-2013, 2013.
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