Chemistry and Physics Faculty Articles

Title

Organic Carbon, Total Nitrogen, and Water-Soluble Ions in Clouds from a Tropical Montane Cloud Forest in Puerto Rico

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2009

Publication Title

Atmospheric Environment

Keywords

African dust, Total organic carbon, Dissolved organic carbon, Total nitrogen, Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy, Ion chromatography

ISSN

1352-2310

Volume

43

Issue/No.

27

First Page

4171

Last Page

4177

Abstract

Chemical characterization to determine the organic and nitrogen fractions was performed on cloud water samples collected in a mountaintop site in Puerto Rico. Cloud water samples showed average concentrations of 1.09 mg L−1 of total organic carbon (TOC), of 0.85 mg L−1 for dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and of and 1.25 mg L−1 for total nitrogen (TN). Concentrations of organic nitrogen (ON) changed with the origin of the air mass. Changes in their concentrations were observed during periods under the influence of African dust (AD). The ON/TN ratios were 0.26 for the clean and 0.35 for the AD periods. Average concentrations of all these species were similar to those found in remote environments with no anthropogenic contribution. In the AD period, for cloud water the concentrations of TOC were 4 times higher and TN were 3 times higher than during periods of clean air masses associated with the trade winds. These results suggest that a significant fraction of TOC and TN in cloud and rainwater is associated to airborne particulate matter present in dust. Functional groups were identified using proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy. This characterization led to the conclusion that water-soluble organic compounds in these samples are mainly aliphatic oxygenated compounds, with a small amount of aromatics. The ion chromatography results showed that the ionic species were predominantly of marine origin, for air masses with and without African dust influence, with cloud water concentrations of NO3 and NH4+ much lower than from polluted areas in the US. An increase of such species as SO42−, Cl, Mg2+, K+ and Ca2+ was seen when air masses originated from northwest Africa. The changes in the chemical composition and physical properties of clouds associated with these different types of aerosol particles could affect on cloud formation and processes.

Additional Comments

NSF grant #s: ATM-0342548, ATM-0711102, ATM-0745337

ORCID ID

0000-0002-0566-0820

ResearcherID

V-6501-2018

DOI

10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.05.049

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