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Title: The influence of local oil exploration and regional wildfires on summer 2015 aerosol over the North Slope of Alaska

Abstract

Here, the Arctic is warming at an alarming rate, yet the processes that contribute to the enhanced warming are not well understood. Arctic aerosols have been targeted in studies for decades due to their consequential impacts on the energy budget, both directly and indirectly through their ability to modulate cloud microphysics. Even with the breadth of knowledge afforded from these previous studies, aerosols and their effects remain poorly quantified, especially in the rapidly changing Arctic. Additionally, many previous studies involved use of ground-based measurements, and due to the frequent stratified nature of the Arctic atmosphere, brings into question the representativeness of these datasets aloft. Here, we report on airborne observations from the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program's Fifth Airborne Carbon Measurements (ACME-V) field campaign along the North Slope of Alaska during the summer of 2015. Contrary to previous evidence that the Alaskan Arctic summertime air is relatively pristine, we show how local oil extraction activities, 2015's central Alaskan wildfires, and, to a lesser extent, long-range transport introduce aerosols and trace gases higher in concentration than previously reported in Arctic haze measurements to the North Slope. Although these sources were either episodic or localized, they serve asmore » abundant aerosol sources that have the potential to impact a larger spatial scale after emission.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [4]
  1. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO (United States)
  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO (United States)
  3. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  4. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Lemont, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23), Atmospheric System Research
OSTI Identifier:
1417488
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online); Journal Volume: 18; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7324
Publisher:
European Geosciences Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Creamean, Jessie M., Maahn, Maximilian, de Boer, Gijs, McComiskey, Allison, Sedlacek, Arthur J., and Feng, Yan. The influence of local oil exploration and regional wildfires on summer 2015 aerosol over the North Slope of Alaska. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.5194/acp-18-555-2018.
Creamean, Jessie M., Maahn, Maximilian, de Boer, Gijs, McComiskey, Allison, Sedlacek, Arthur J., & Feng, Yan. The influence of local oil exploration and regional wildfires on summer 2015 aerosol over the North Slope of Alaska. United States. doi:10.5194/acp-18-555-2018.
Creamean, Jessie M., Maahn, Maximilian, de Boer, Gijs, McComiskey, Allison, Sedlacek, Arthur J., and Feng, Yan. 2018. "The influence of local oil exploration and regional wildfires on summer 2015 aerosol over the North Slope of Alaska". United States. doi:10.5194/acp-18-555-2018. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1417488.
@article{osti_1417488,
title = {The influence of local oil exploration and regional wildfires on summer 2015 aerosol over the North Slope of Alaska},
author = {Creamean, Jessie M. and Maahn, Maximilian and de Boer, Gijs and McComiskey, Allison and Sedlacek, Arthur J. and Feng, Yan},
abstractNote = {Here, the Arctic is warming at an alarming rate, yet the processes that contribute to the enhanced warming are not well understood. Arctic aerosols have been targeted in studies for decades due to their consequential impacts on the energy budget, both directly and indirectly through their ability to modulate cloud microphysics. Even with the breadth of knowledge afforded from these previous studies, aerosols and their effects remain poorly quantified, especially in the rapidly changing Arctic. Additionally, many previous studies involved use of ground-based measurements, and due to the frequent stratified nature of the Arctic atmosphere, brings into question the representativeness of these datasets aloft. Here, we report on airborne observations from the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program's Fifth Airborne Carbon Measurements (ACME-V) field campaign along the North Slope of Alaska during the summer of 2015. Contrary to previous evidence that the Alaskan Arctic summertime air is relatively pristine, we show how local oil extraction activities, 2015's central Alaskan wildfires, and, to a lesser extent, long-range transport introduce aerosols and trace gases higher in concentration than previously reported in Arctic haze measurements to the North Slope. Although these sources were either episodic or localized, they serve as abundant aerosol sources that have the potential to impact a larger spatial scale after emission.},
doi = {10.5194/acp-18-555-2018},
journal = {Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online)},
number = 2,
volume = 18,
place = {United States},
year = 2018,
month = 1
}

Journal Article:
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  • The Arctic is warming at an alarming rate, yet the processes that contribute to enhanced warming are not well understood. Arctic aerosols have been targeted in studies for decades due to their consequential impacts on the energy budget directly and indirectly through their ability to modulate cloud microphysics. Even with the breadth of knowledge afforded from these previous studies, aerosols and their effects remain poorly quantified, especially in the rapidly-changing Arctic. Additionally, many previous studies involved use of ground-based measurements, and due to the frequent stratified nature of the Arctic atmosphere, brings into question the representativeness of these datasets aloft.more » Here, we report on airborne observations from the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program's Fifth Airborne Carbon Measurements (ACME-V) campaign along the North Slope of Alaska during the summer of 2015. Contrary to previous evidence that the Alaskan Arctic summertime air is relatively pristine, we show how local oil extraction activities, 2015’s central Alaskan wildfires, and to a lesser extent, long-range transport introduce aerosols and trace gases higher in concentration than previously reported in Arctic haze measurements to the North Slope. Although these sources were either episodic or localized, they serve as abundant aerosol sources that have the potential to impact a larger spatial scale after emission.« less
  • Biomass burning (BB) is one of the most important contributors to atmospheric aerosols on a global scale, and wildfires are a large source of emissions that impact regional air quality and global climate. As part of the Biomass Burning Observation Project (BBOP) field campaign in summer 2013, we deployed a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-AMS) coupled with a thermodenuder at the Mt. Bachelor Observatory (MBO, ∼  2.8 km above sea level) to characterize the impact of wildfire emissions on aerosol loading and properties in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. MBO represents a remote background site in the western US,more » and it is frequently influenced by transported wildfire plumes during summer. Very clean conditions were observed at this site during periods without BB influence where the 5 min average (±1 σ) concentration of non-refractory submicron aerosols (NR-PM 1) was 3.7 ± 4.2 µg m −3. Aerosol concentration increased substantially (reaching up to 210 µg m −3 of NR-PM 1) for periods impacted by transported BB plumes, and aerosol composition was overwhelmingly organic. Based on positive matrix factorization (PMF) of the HR-AMS data, three types of BB organic aerosol (BBOA) were identified, including a fresh, semivolatile BBOA-1 (O ∕ C  =  0.35; 20 % of OA mass) that correlated well with ammonium nitrate; an intermediately oxidized BBOA-2 (O ∕ C  =  0.60; 17 % of OA mass); and a highly oxidized BBOA-3 (O ∕ C  =  1.06; 31 % of OA mass) that showed very low volatility with only  ∼  40 % mass loss at 200 °C. The remaining 32 % of the OA mass was attributed to a boundary layer (BL) oxygenated OA (BL-OOA; O ∕ C  =  0.69) representing OA influenced by BL dynamics and a low-volatility oxygenated OA (LV-OOA; O ∕ C  =  1.09) representing regional aerosols in the free troposphere. The mass spectrum of BBOA-3 resembled that of LV-OOA and had negligible contributions from the HR-AMS BB tracer ions – C 2H 4O 2 + ( mz = 60.021) and C 3H 5O 2 + ( mz = 73.029); nevertheless, it was unambiguously related to wildfire emissions. This finding highlights the possibility that the influence of BB emission could be underestimated in regional air masses where highly oxidized BBOA (e.g., BBOA-3) might be a significant aerosol component but where primary BBOA tracers, such as levoglucosan, are depleted. We also examined OA chemical evolution for persistent BB plume events originating from a single fire source and found that longer solar radiation led to higher mass fraction of the chemically aged BBOA-2 and BBOA-3 and more oxidized aerosol. However, an analysis of the enhancement ratios of OA relative to CO (ΔOA ∕ΔCO) showed little difference between BB plumes transported primarily at night versus during the day, despite evidence of substantial chemical transformation in OA induced by photooxidation. These results indicate negligible net OA production in photochemically aged wildfire plumes observed in this study, for which a possible reason is that SOA formation was almost entirely balanced by BBOA volatilization. Nevertheless, the formation and chemical transformation of BBOA during atmospheric transport can significantly influence downwind sites with important implications for health and climate.« less
  • Biomass burning (BB) is one of the most important contributors to atmospheric aerosols on a global scale, and wildfires are a large source of emissions that impact regional air quality and global climate. As part of the Biomass Burning Observation Project (BBOP) field campaign in summer 2013, we deployed a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-AMS) coupled with a thermodenuder at the Mt. Bachelor Observatory (MBO, ~2.8 km above sea level) to characterize the impact of wildfire emissions on aerosol loading and properties in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. MBO represents a remote background site in the westernmore » US, and it is frequently influenced by transported wildfire plumes during summer. Very clean conditions were observed at this site during periods without BB influence where the 5 min average (±1 σ) concentration of non-refractory submicron aerosols (NR-PM 1) was 3.7 ± 4.2 µg m –3. Aerosol concentration increased substantially (reaching up to 210 µg m –3 of NR-PM 1) for periods impacted by transported BB plumes, and aerosol composition was overwhelmingly organic. Based on positive matrix factorization (PMF) of the HR-AMS data, three types of BB organic aerosol (BBOA) were identified, including a fresh, semivolatile BBOA-1 (O/C = 0.35; 20 % of OA mass) that correlated well with ammonium nitrate; an intermediately oxidized BBOA-2 (O/C = 0.60; 17 % of OA mass); and a highly oxidized BBOA-3 (O/C = 1.06; 31% of OA mass) that showed very low volatility with only ~40 % mass loss at 200 °C. The remaining 32 % of the OA mass was attributed to a boundary layer (BL) oxygenated OA (BL-OOA; O/C = 0.69) representing OA influenced by BL dynamics and a low-volatility oxygenated OA (LV-OOA; O/C = 1.09) representing regional aerosols in the free troposphere. The mass spectrum of BBOA-3 resembled that of LV-OOA and had negligible contributions from the HR-AMS BB tracer ions – C 2H 4O 2 + ( m/ z = 60.021) and C 3H 5O 2 + ( m/ z = 73.029); nevertheless, it was unambiguously related to wildfire emissions. This finding highlights the possibility that the influence of BB emission could be underestimated in regional air masses where highly oxidized BBOA (e.g., BBOA-3) might be a significant aerosol component but where primary BBOA tracers, such as levoglucosan, are depleted. We also examined OA chemical evolution for persistent BB plume events originating from a single fire source and found that longer solar radiation led to higher mass fraction of the chemically aged BBOA-2 and BBOA-3 and more oxidized aerosol. However, an analysis of the enhancement ratios of OA relative to CO (ΔOA/ΔCO) showed little difference between BB plumes transported primarily at night versus during the day, despite evidence of substantial chemical transformation in OA induced by photooxidation. These results indicate negligible net OA production in photochemically aged wildfire plumes observed in this study, for which a possible reason is that SOA formation was almost entirely balanced by BBOA volatilization. Furthermore, the formation and chemical transformation of BBOA during atmospheric transport can significantly influence downwind sites with important implications for health and climate.« less
  • Wildfires are important contributors to atmospheric aerosols and a large source of emissions that impact regional air quality and global climate. In this study, the regional and nearfield influences of wildfire emissions on ambient aerosol concentration and chemical properties in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States were studied using real-time measurements from a fixed ground site located in Central Oregon at the Mt. Bachelor Observatory (~2700 m a.s.l.) as well as near their sources using an aircraft. In addition, the regional characteristics of biomass burning aerosols were found to depend strongly on the modified combustion efficiency (MCE), anmore » index of the combustion processes of a fire. Organic aerosol emissions had negative correlations with MCE, whereas the oxidation state of organic aerosol increased with MCE and plume aging. The relationships between the aerosol properties and MCE were consistent between fresh emissions (~1 h old) and emissions sampled after atmospheric transport (6–45 h), suggesting that biomass burning organic aerosol concentration and chemical properties were strongly influenced by combustion processes at the source and conserved to a significant extent during regional transport. In conclusion, these results suggest that MCE can be a useful metric for describing aerosol properties of wildfire emissions and their impacts on regional air quality and global climate.« less
  • Abstract Wildfires are important contributors to atmospheric aerosols and a large source of emissions that impact regional air quality and global climate. In this study, wildfire emissions in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States were characterized using real-time measurements near their sources using an aircraft, and farther downwind from a fixed ground site located at the Mt. Bachelor Observatory (~ 2700 m a.s.l.). The characteristics of aerosol emissions were found to depend strongly on the modified combustion efficiency (MCE), a qualitative index of the combustion processes of a fire. Organic aerosol emissions had negative correlations with MCE, whereasmore » the carbon oxidation state of organic aerosol increased with MCE. The relationships between the aerosol properties and MCE were consistent between fresher emissions (~1 hour old) and emissions sampled after atmospheric transport (6 - 45 hours), suggesting that organic aerosol mass loading and chemical properties were strongly influenced by combustion processes at the source and conserved to a significant extent during regional transport. These results suggest that MCE can be a useful metric for describing aerosol properties of regionally transported wildfire emissions and their impacts on regional air quality and global climate.« less