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The Pursuit of Isotopic and Molecular Fire Tracers in the Polar Atmosphere and Cryosphere1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2016

L. A. Currie
Affiliation:
Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
J. E. Dibb
Affiliation:
Climate Change Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, Morse Hall, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824 USA
G. A. Klouda
Affiliation:
Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
B. A. Benner Jr.
Affiliation:
Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
J. M. Conny
Affiliation:
Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
S. R. Biegalski
Affiliation:
Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
D. B. Klinedinst
Affiliation:
Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 USA
D. R. Cahoon
Affiliation:
Radiation Science Branch, Atmospheric Sciences Division, NASA Langley Research Center, 21 Langley Blvd., Hampton, Virginia 23681 USA
N. C. Hsu
Affiliation:
Hughes STX, 4400 Forbes Blvd., Lanham, Maryland 20706 USA
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Abstract

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We present an overview of recent multidisciplinary, multi-institutional efforts to identify and date major sources of combustion aerosol in the current and paleoatmospheres. The work was stimulated, in part, by an atmospheric particle “sample of opportunity” collected at Summit, Greenland in August 1994, that bore the 14C imprint of biomass burning. During the summer field seasons of 1995 and 1996, we collected air filter, surface snow and snowpit samples to investigate chemical and isotopic evidence of combustion particles that had been transported from distant fires. Among the chemical tracers employed for source identification are organic acids, potassium and ammonium ions, and elemental and organic components of carbonaceous particles. Ion chromatography, performed by members of the Climate Change Research Center (University of New Hampshire), has been especially valuable in indicating periods at Summit that were likely to have been affected by the long range transport of biomass burning aerosol. Univariate and multivariate patterns of the ion concentrations in the snow and ice pinpointed surface and snowpit samples for the direct analysis of particulate (soot) carbon and carbon isotopes. The research at NIST is focusing on graphitic and polycyclic aromatic carbon, which serve as almost certain indicators of fire, and measurements of carbon isotopes, especially 14C, to distinguish fossil and biomass combustion sources.

Complementing the chemical and isotopic record, are direct “visual” (satellite imagery) records and less direct backtrajectory records, to indicate geographic source regions and transport paths. In this paper we illustrate the unique way in which the synthesis of the chemical, isotopic, satellite and trajectory data enhances our ability to develop the recent history of the formation and transport of soot deposited in the polar snow and ice.

Type
Part 1: Methods
Copyright
Copyright © The American Journal of Science 

References

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