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Long-range atmospheric transport of terrestrial biomarkers by the Asian winter monsoon: Evidence from fresh snow from Sapporo, northern Japan

Yamamoto, Shinya, Kawamura, Kimitaka, Seki, Osamu
Atmospheric environment 2011 v.45 no.21 pp. 3553-3560
organic matter, atmospheric chemistry, biomarkers, isotopes, monsoon season, acids, snow, carbon, alkanes, latitude, Gymnospermae, deuterium, vegetation, leaves, Siberia, Japan, China
Molecular distributions of terrestrial biomarkers were investigated in fresh snow samples from Sapporo, northern Japan, to better understand the long-range atmospheric transport of terrestrial organic matter by the Asian winter monsoon. Stable carbon (δ¹³C) and hydrogen (δD) isotope ratios of C₂₂–C₂₈n-alkanoic acids were also measured to decipher their source regions. The snow samples are found to contain higher plant-derived n-alkanes, n-alkanols and n-alkanoic acids as major components. Relative abundances of these three biomarker classes suggest that they are likely derived from higher plants in the Asian continent. The C₂₇/C₃₁ ratios of terrestrial n-alkanes in the snow samples range from 1.3 to 5.5, being similar to those of the plants growing in the latitudes >40°N of East Asia. The δ¹³C values of the n-alkanoic acids in the snow samples (−33.4 to −27.6‰) are similar to those of typical C₃ gymnosperm from Sapporo (−34.9 to −29.3‰). However, the δD values of the n-alkanoic acids (−208 to −148‰) are found to be significantly depleted with deuterium (by ∼72‰) than those of plant leaves from Sapporo. Such depletion can be most likely interpreted by the long-range atmospheric transport of the n-alkanoic acids from vegetation in the latitudes further north of Sapporo because the δD values of terrestrial higher plants tend to decrease northward in East Asia reflecting the δD of precipitation. Together with the results of backward trajectory analyses, this study suggests that the terrestrial biomarkers in the Sapporo snow samples are likely transported from Siberia, Russian Far East and northeast China to northern Japan by the Asian winter monsoon.