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Chemical Characterization of Dissolved Organic Compounds from Coastal Sea Surface Microlayers (Baltic Sea, Germany)

van Pinxteren, Manuela, Müller, Conny, Iinuma, Yoshiteru, Stolle, Christian, Herrmann, Hartmut
Environmental Science & Technology 2012 v.46 no.19 pp. 10455-10462
air, amines, amino acids, carbon, case studies, dissolved organic carbon, free amino acids, monosaccharides, nitrogen, physicochemical properties, sugar alcohols, total dissolved nitrogen, Baltic Sea, Germany
The physicochemical properties of the sea surface microlayer (SML), i.e. the boundary layer between the air and the sea, and its impact on air-sea exchange processes have been investigated for decades. However, a detailed description about these processes remains incomplete. In order to obtain a better chemical characterization of the SML, in a case study three pairs of SML and corresponding bulk water samples were taken in the southern Baltic Sea. The samples were analyzed for dissolved organic carbon and dissolved total nitrogen, as well as for several organic nitrogen containing compounds and carbohydrates, namely aliphatic amines, dissolved free amino acids, dissolved free monosaccharides, sugar alcohols, and monosaccharide anhydrates. Therefore, reasonable analytical procedures with respect to desalting and enrichment were established. All aliphatic amines and the majority of the investigated amino acids (11 out of 18) were found in the samples with average concentrations between 53 ng L–¹ and 1574 ng L–¹. The concentrations of carbohydrates were slightly higher, averaging 2900 ng L–¹. Calculation of the enrichment factor (EF) between the sea surface microlayer and the bulk water showed that dissolved total nitrogen was more enriched (EF: 1.1 and 1.2) in the SML than dissolved organic carbon (EF: 1.0 and 1.1). The nitrogen containing organic compounds were generally found to be enriched in the SML (EF: 1.9–9.2), whereas dissolved carbohydrates were not enriched or even depleted (EF: 0.7–1.2). Although the investigated compounds contributed on average only 0.3% to the dissolved organic carbon and 0.4% to the total dissolved nitrogen fraction, these results underline the importance of single compound analysis to determine SML structure, function, and its potential for a transfer of compounds into the atmosphere.