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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Jun 2018

Research article | 12 Jun 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The impacts of regional shipping emissions on the chemical characteristics of coastal submicron aerosols near Houston, TX

Benjamin C. Schulze1, Henry W. Wallace1,a, Alexander T. Bui1, James H. Flynn2, Matt H. Erickson2,b, Sergio Alvarez2, Qili Dai3, Sascha Usenko4, Rebecca J. Sheesley4, and Robert J. Griffin1,5 Benjamin C. Schulze et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, 77005
  • 2Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX, 77204
  • 3State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Urban Ambient Air Particulate Matter Pollution Prevention and Control, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
  • 4Department of Environmental Science, Baylor University, Waco, TX, 76798
  • 5Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, 77005
  • anow at: Washington State Department of Ecology, Lacey WA, 98503
  • bnow at: TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering, Inc., Pasco, WA, 99301

Abstract. The air quality of the Texas Gulf Coast region historically has been influenced heavily by regional shipping emissions. However, the effects of the recently established North American Emissions Control Area on aerosol concentrations and properties in this region are presently unknown. In order to better understand the current sources and processing mechanisms influencing coastal aerosol near Houston, a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) was deployed for three weeks at a coastal location during May–June 2016. Total mass loadings of organic and inorganic non-refractory aerosol components during onshore flow periods were similar to those published before establishment of the regulations. Based on estimated methanesulfonic acid (MSA) mass loadings and published biogenic MSA to non-sea-salt-sulfate (nss-SO4) ratios, an average of over 75% of the observed nss-SO4 was from anthropogenic sources, predominantly shipping emissions. Mass spectral analysis indicated that for periods with similar backward-trajectory-averaged meteorological conditions, air masses influenced by shipping emissions had an increased mass fraction of ions related to carboxylic acids and larger oxygen-to-carbon ratios than those that avoided shipping lanes, suggesting that shipping emissions increase marine organic aerosol (OA) oxidation state. Amine fragment mass loadings were correlated positively with anthropogenic nss-SO4 during onshore flow, implying anthropogenic-biogenic interaction in marine OA production. Model calculations also suggest that advection of shipping-derived aerosol may enhance inland aqueous-phase secondary OA production. These results emphasize the continuing role of shipping emissions on aerosol properties over the Gulf of Mexico and suggest that further regulation of shipping fuel sulfur content will reduce coastal submicron aerosol mass loadings near Houston.

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Short summary
Atmospheric field measurements at a coastal site near Houston, TX were used to investigate the relevance shipping vessel emissions on aerosol mass and composition over the Gulf of Mexico. Results suggest that these vessels produce a considerable fraction of inorganic and organic aerosol mass in this area. Secondary effects of shipping emissions on organic aerosol composition, such as influences on aerosol aging, were also identified.
Atmospheric field measurements at a coastal site near Houston, TX were used to investigate the...