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Physical and chemical properties of pollution aerosol particles transported from North America to Greenland as measured during the POLARCAT summer campaign

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Abstract

International audience Within the framework of the POLARCAT-France campaign, aerosol physical, chemical and optical properties over Greenland were measured onboard the French ATR-42 research aircraft. The Lagrangian particle dispersion model FLEXPART was used to determine air mass origins. The study focuses particularly on the characterization of air masses transported from the North American continent. Air masses that picked up emissions from Canadian and Alaskan boreal forest fires as well as from the cities on the American east coast were identified and selected for a detailed study. Measurements of CO concentrations, aerosol chemical composition, aerosol size distributions, aerosol volatile fractions and aerosol light absorption (mainly from black carbon) are used in order to study the relationship between CO enhancement, ageing of the air masses, aerosol particle concentrations and size distributions. Aerosol size distributions are in good agreement with previous studies, even though, wet scavenging potentially occurred along the pathway between the emission sources and Greenland leading to lower concentrations in the aerosol accumulation mode. The measured aerosol size distributions show a significant enhancement of Aitken mode particles. It is demonstrated that the Aitken mode is largely composed of black carbon, while the accumulation mode is more dominated by organics, as deduced from aerosol mass spectrometric AMS and aerosol volatility measurements. Overall, during the campaign rather small amounts of black carbon from the North American continent were transported towards Greenland. An important finding given the potential climate impacts of black carbon in the Arctic.

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