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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Mar 2019

Submitted as: research article | 25 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Large-scale particulate air pollution and chemical fingerprint of volcanic sulfate aerosols from the 2014-15 Holuhraun flood lava eruption of Bárðarbunga volcano (Iceland)

Marie Boichu1,2, Olivier Favez3, Véronique Riffault4, Colette Brogniez2, Jean Sciare5,a, Isabelle Chiapello1,2, Lieven Clarisse6, Shouwen Zhang4,7, Nathalie Pujol-Söhne7, Emmanuel Tison4, Hervé Delbarre8, and Philippe Goloub2 Marie Boichu et al.
  • 1Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
  • 2Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphérique, Université de Lille, CNRS/INSU, UMR8518, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France
  • 3Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques (INERIS), Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
  • 4IMT Lille Douai, SAGE, Douai, France
  • 5Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement (CNRS-CEA-UVSQ), CEA Orme des Merisiers, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 6Spectroscopie de l'Atmosphère, Service de Chimie Quantique et Photophysique, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  • 7Atmo Hauts de France, Lille, France
  • 8Laboratoire de Physico-chimie de l'Atmosphère, Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale, Dunkerque, France
  • anow at: the Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus

Abstract. Volcanic sulfate aerosols play a key role on air quality and climate. However, the oxidation of sulfur dioxide (SO2) precursor gas to sulfate aerosols (SO42−) in volcanic clouds is poorly known, especially in the troposphere. Here we determine the chemical speciation, lifetime and impact on air quality of sulfate aerosols from the 2014–15 Holuhraun flood lava eruption of Bárðarbunga icelandic volcano. To do so, we jointly analyze a set of SO2 observations from satellite (OMPS and IASI) and ground-level measurements from air quality monitoring stations together with, for the first time, high temporal resolution mass spectrometry measurements of Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM) performed far from the source. We explore month/year-long ACSM data in France from stations in contrasted environments, close and far from industrial sulfur-rich activities. We demonstrate that aged volcanic sulfate aerosols exhibit a distinct chemical fingerprint, with NO3 : SO4 and Organic : SO4 concentration ratios higher than freshly-emitted industrial sulfate but lower than background aerosols in urban/rural conditions. Combining AERONET (AErosol RObotic NETwork) sunphotometric data with ACSM observations, we also show a long persistence over weeks of volcanic sulfate aerosols while SO2 disappears in a few days at most. Finally, gathering 6 month-long datasets from 19 sulfur monitoring stations of the EMEP (European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme) network allows us to demonstrate a much broader large-scale European particulate pollution in SO4 associated to the Holuhraun eruption, from Scandinavia to France. Exploiting these in-situ data, we also show the various rates of SO2 oxidation observed in the volcanic cloud, with SO2 : SO4 concentration ratios ranging in 0.6–7, distinct from background conditions of about 50. Most current studies generally focus on SO2, an unambiguous and more readily measured marker of the volcanic cloud. However, our results here on sulfate aerosols raise fundamental questions about the cumulative impact of tropospheric eruptions on air quality, health, atmospheric composition and climate, which may be significantly underestimated.

Marie Boichu et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Marie Boichu et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study, benefiting especially from recently-developed mass spectrometry observations of aerosols, highlights unknown properties of volcanic sulfates in the troposphere. It shows their specific chemical fingerprint, distinct from those of freshly-emitted industrial sulfates and background aerosols. We also demonstrate their large-scale persistence over weeks. Hence, these results question the impact of tropospheric eruptions on air quality and climate which may be underestimated.
This study, benefiting especially from recently-developed mass spectrometry observations of...