Chemical characterisation of atmospheric aerosols during a 2007 summer field campaign at Brasschaat, Belgium: sources and source processes of biogenic secondary organic aerosol
1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Antwerp (Campus Drie Eiken), Antwerp, Belgium
2Department of Analytical Chemistry, Institute for Nuclear Sciences, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
3Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Geraardsbergen, Belgium
4Department of Biology, University of Antwerp (Campus Drie Eiken), Antwerp, Belgium
*present address: Biogeochemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
Abstract. Measurements of organic marker compounds and inorganic species were performed on PM2.5 aerosols from a Belgian forest site that is severely impacted by urban pollution ("De Inslag", Brasschaat, Belgium) during a 2007 summer period within the framework of the "Formation mechanisms, marker compounds, and source apportionment for biogenic atmospheric aerosols (BIOSOL)" project. The measured organic species included (i) low-molecular weight (MW) dicarboxylic acids (LMW DCAs), (ii) methanesulfonate (MSA), (iii) terpenoic acids originating from the oxidation of α-pinene, β-pinene, d-limonene and Δ3-carene, and (iv) organosulfates related to secondary organic aerosol from the oxidation of isoprene and α-pinene. The organic tracers explained, on average, 5.3 % of the organic carbon (OC), of which 0.7 % was due to MSA, 3.4 % to LMW DCAs, 0.6 % to organosulfates, and 0.6 % to terpenoic acids. The highest atmospheric concentrations of most species were observed during the first five days of the campaign, which were characterised by maximum day-time temperatures >22 °C. Most of the terpenoic acids and the organosulfates peaked during day-time, consistent with their local photochemical origin. High concentrations of 3-methyl-1,2,3-butanetricarboxylic acid (MBTCA) and low concentrations of cis-pinonic acid were noted during the first five days of the campaign, indicative of an aged biogenic aerosol. Several correlations between organic species were very high (r>0.85), high (0.7<r<0.85), or substantial (0.5<r<0.7), suggesting that they are generated through similar formation pathways. Substantial correlations with temperature were found for OC, water-soluble OC, MBTCA, and several other organic species. MBTCA and terebic acid were highly correlated with the temperature (r>0.7) and showed an Arrhenius-type relationship, consistent with their formation through OH radical chemistry.