Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 211–226

Chemical components of lower tropospheric aerosols in the high arctic: Six years of observations


  • L. A. Barrie
    • Atmospheric Environment Service
  • M. J. Barrie
    • University of Toronto/OISE

DOI: 10.1007/BF00118349

Cite this article as:
Barrie, L.A. & Barrie, M.J. J Atmos Chem (1990) 11: 211. doi:10.1007/BF00118349


Six years of observations (1980 to 1986) of the composition of lower tropospheric aerosols at Alert on northern Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic yield insight into the seasonal variation of Arctic air pollutants as well as of substances of natural origin. A principal component analysis of 138 observations of 21 aerosol constituents (major ions, metals, nonmetallic trace elements) for the most polluted period of December to April identified not only a soil, sea salt and anthropogenic aerosol component, but also one associated with photochemical reactions in the atmosphere that occur at polar sunrise. Depending on the source of their gaseous precursors, elements in the photochemical component can be natural or anthropogenic in origin. For instance, SO42-, existing mostly as H2SO4, originates probably from both anthropogenic and natural sources while Br is likely of marine origin. In contrast, SO42- in the anthropogenic component has the stoichiometry of NH4HSO4. In the winter months, over 90% of Arctic SO42- is in the anthropogenic and photochemical components.

In winter, a substantial portion (11 to 35%) of Na+ is associated with the anthropogenic aerosol component suggesting either that marine aerosols have been physically or chemically modified by interactions with air pollution or that there are anthropogenic sources of Na+.

The aerosol soil component is controlled by both local and distant dust sources. During a year, it has two peaks at Alert, one in April/May coinciding with the Asian dust storm season and one in September.

There is a marked difference in the seasonal variation of particulate Br and iodine concentrations in the air. Both have a peak in April/May associated with polar sunrise and, hence, photochemical reactions in the atmosphere. However, iodine also peaks in early fall. This may be a product of biogenic iodine emissions to the atmosphere during secondary blooms in northern oceans in late summer.

Key words

Lower troposphereaerosolsArcticair pollutionprincipal component analysis

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990