Water-soluble organic components in aerosols associated with savanna fires in southern Africa: identification, evolution, and distribution

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Journal Article



During the SAFARI 2000 field campaign, both smoke aerosols from savanna fires and haze aerosols in the boundary layer and in the free troposphere were collected from an aircraft in southern Africa. These aerosol samples were analyzed for their water-soluble chemical components, particularly the organic species. A novel technique, electrospray ionization-ion trap mass spectrometry, was used concurrently with an ion chromatography system to analyze for carbohydrate species. Seven carbohydrates, seven organic acids, five metallic elements, and three inorganic anions were identified and quantified. On the average, these 22 species comprised 36% and 27% of the total aerosol mass in haze and smoke aerosols, respectively. For the smoke aerosols, levoglucosan was the most abundant carbohydrate species, while gluconic acid was tentatively identified as the most abundant organic acid. The mass abundance and possible source of each class of identified species are discussed, along with their possible formation pathways. The combustion phase of a fire had an impact on the chemical composition of the emitted aerosols. Secondary formation of sulfate, nitrate, levoglucosan, and several organic acids occurred during the initial aging of smoke aerosols. It is likely that under certain conditions, some carbohydrate species in smoke aerosols, such as levoglucosan, were converted to organic acids during upward transport.


Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres



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