Between 18 April and 13 May 2001, three statistically extreme dust aerosol events were observed across the entire northeastern United States. High levels of bulk aerosol water-soluble Ca2+ (range = 42–482 pptv) and PM2.5 elemental Ca (range = 19–156 pptv) were observed simultaneously at Atmospheric Investigation, Regional Modeling, Analysis and Prediction (AIRMAP) and Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) stations. On the basis of Ca2+ concentrations, the average bulk dust concentration for all events across all four AIRMAP stations was estimated to be 7.4 μg/m3. There was no evidence of dust outbreaks in North America large enough to explain these events. However, in April 2001, massive dust storms occurred in the Tarim Pendi basin and in the Gobi deserts of southern Mongolia and China. Comparison of elemental ratios of AIRMAP samples to previously reported Asian dust aerosol samples showed that all AIRMAP samples had a chemical composition similar to Asian dust transported over long distances. Within the dust plumes, strong correlations were observed between absorption, scattering, and CO, indicative of an anthropogenic contribution including elemental carbon and SO42− aerosols. Aerosol NO3 was also highly elevated during event days, most likely due to uptake of HNO3 by the dust during transport. A comparison of dust plumes sampled by AIRMAP to those sampled off the Asian coast during the TRACE-P airborne mission and on the U.S. west coast, strongly suggested entrainment of additional pollutants (e.g., CO, aerosol NO3, and SO42−) as the dust plumes were transported over North America.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geophysical Research



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Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.