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Molecular marker study of aerosols in the northern South China Sea: Impact of atmospheric outflow from the Indo-China Peninsula and South China

Geng, Xiaofei, Zhong, Guangcai, Li, Jun, Cheng, Zhineng, Mo, Yangzhi, Mao, Shuduan, Su, Tao, Jiang, Haoyu, Ni, Kaiwen, Zhang, Gan
Atmospheric environment 2019 v.206 pp. 225-236
aerosols, air, alkanes, atmospheric chemistry, autumn, biogeochemistry, biomass, burning, carbon, climate, emissions, fatty acids, fossil fuels, fossils, fuel combustion, genetic markers, mannitol, molecular weight, organic matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, tracer techniques, wastes, winter, China, South China Sea
Continental outflow influences concentration and chemical composition of marine aerosols, which has an important impact on regional biogeochemistry and climate. Aerosols sampling for molecular marker study was conducted from June 2015 to May 2016 at Xieyang Island in the northern South China Sea (SCS), to learn the impact of outflow from Indo-China Peninsular (ICP) and South China (SC). Xieyang Island was under the influence of air masses from ICP and SC nearly 70% of the year. Levels of anhydrosugars were higher during October to early March. They were lower in April and May, although biomass burning events in ICP were most intensive and half of air masses back trajectories passed through ICP in this period. Significant correlations between levels of anhydrosugars, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, n-alkanes, high molecular weight n-fatty acids and terephthalic acid were observed, suggesting co-emissions of these compounds. Source types of aerosol primary organic matter (POM) tracked by these markers, namely open burning of municipal wastes, fossil fuel combustion, higher plant emissions and biomass burning, largely contributed in fall and winter with SC to be an important source region. However, levels of sugar alcohols (a group of biogenic aerosol tracers) were higher in warm seasons with ICP and SCS to be the main source regions, and were poorly correlated with levels of other molecular markers. Carbon preference index of n-alkanes also increased in warm seasons, indicating enhanced higher plant wax emissions. It suggested that there was a close link between biogenic emissions of sugar alcohols (or n-alkanes) and the growing activities of related organisms. Besides continental outflow, there were marine sources of steranes, hopanes (fossil sources tracers) and mannitol (a sugar alcohol), since their levels were higher for aerosol samples basically influenced by air masses originated from SCS.