The sources, sinks, and overall importance of watersoluble organic carbon (WSOC) in the atmosphere are not well understood. Although the primary historical focus has been on particulate WSOC (WSOCP), here we also present results obtained using a newly developed technique that additionally measures gas-phase water-soluble organic carbon (WSOCG). These first-of-their-kind measurements show that WSOCG can often be more than ten times larger than WSOCP at both urban and remote locations. The average fraction of WSOC residing in the gas phase (fg = WSOCG/(WSOCG + WSOCP)) at five various field sites ranged from 0.64 to 0.93, implying significant differences in WSOC phase partitioning between locations. At Houston, TX, and Summit, Greenland, a repeatable diurnal pattern was observed, with minimum values for fg occurring at night. These trends likely are due, at least in part, to temperature and/or relative humidity related gas-to-particle partitioning. These coincident measurements of WSOC in both the gas and particle phases indicate that a relatively large reservoir of water-soluble organic mass is not taken into account by measurements focused only on WSOCP. In addition, a significant amount of WSOCG is available to form WSOCP or enter cloud droplets depending on the chemical and physical properties of the droplets and/or aerosols present. Citation: Anderson, C., J. E. Dibb, R. J. Griffin, and M. H. Bergin (2008), Simultaneous measurements of particulate and gas-phase water-soluble organic carbon concentrations at remote and urban-influenced locations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L13706, doi:10.1029/2008GL033966.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

Publication Date


Journal Title

Geophysical Research Letters



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type