We use data collected aboard the NASA DC-8 aircraft during the summer 2004, Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Evolution Experiment over North America (INTEX-NA) field campaign to examine the origin, composition, physical and optical properties of aerosols within air masses sampled over and downwind of the northeastern U.S. We note that aerosol concentrations within the region exhibited steep vertical gradients and significant variability in both time and space. An examination of air mass chemical signatures and backward trajectories indicates that transport from four, significantly different source regions contributed to the variability: the subtropical Atlantic Ocean (AO); the U.S. west coast and eastern Pacific (WCP); the U.S. east coast and Midwestern states (EC); and northwest Canada and Alaska (CA). AO air masses were typically confined to below 2 km altitude, exhibited low pollutant contents, contained enhanced levels of sea salt, and were typically observed when the Bermuda High strengthened. The most common air mass present in the upper troposphere, WCP air often contained weak dust and aged pollution enhances from convective input occurring over the central part of the continent. CA air exhibited enhancements in anthropogenic pollution tracers below 2 km and contained some black-carbon rich haze layers between 3 and 5 km that could be traced to forest fires burning in western Canada and Alaska. EC air was prevalent at lower elevations throughout the study area and exhibited enhanced scattering along with elevated levels of sulfate aerosols and combustion tracers. There is an overall balance between the observed cations and anions for all cases, except EC air mass below 4 km.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geophysical Research



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Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.