Bulk aerosol sampling of soluble ionic compounds from the NASA Wallops Island P-3 aircraft and a tower on Christmas Island during PEM-Tropics B provides an opportunity to assess the magnitude of particle losses in the University of New Hampshire airborne bulk aerosol sampling system. We find that most aerosol-associated ions decrease strongly with height above the sea surface, making direct comparisons between mixing ratios at 30 m on the tower and the lowest flight level of the P-3 (150 m) open to interpretation. Theoretical considerations suggest that vertical gradients of sea-salt aerosol particles should show exponential decreases with height. Observed gradients of Na+ and Mg2+, combining the tower observations with P-3 samples collected below 1 km, are well described by exponential decreases (r values of 0.88 and 0.87, respectively), though the curve fit underestimates average mixing ratios at the surface by 25%. Cascade impactor samples collected on the tower show that >99% of the Na+ and Mg2+mass is on supermicron particles, 65% is in the 1–6 micron range, and just 20% resides on particles with diameters larger than 9 microns. These results indicate that our airborne aerosol sampling probes must be passing particles up to at least 6 microns with high efficiency. We also observed that nss SO42− and NH4+, which are dominantly on accumulation mode particles, tended to decrease between 150 and 1000 m, but they were often considerably higher at the lowest P-3 sampling altitudes than at the tower. This finding is presently not well understood.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geophysical Research



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Copyright 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.