Long-range transported continental aerosol in the eastern North Atlantic: three multiday event regimes influence cloud condensation nuclei

Journal Article
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 23, iss. 7, pp. 4221-4246, 2023
Francesca Gallo, Janek Uin, Kevin J. Sanchez, Richard H. Moore, Jian Wang, Robert Wood, Fan Mei, Connor Flynn, Stephen Springston, Eduardo B. Azevedo, Chongai Kuang, Allison C. Aiken
Abstract. The eastern North Atlantic (ENA) is a region dominated by pristine marine environment and subtropical marine boundary layer clouds. Under unperturbed atmospheric conditions, the regional aerosol regime in the ENA varies seasonally due to different seasonal surface-ocean biogenic emissions, removal processes, and meteorological regimes. However, during periods when the marine boundary layer aerosol in the ENA is impacted by particles transported from continental sources, aerosol properties within the marine boundary layer change significantly, affecting the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Here, we investigate the impact of long-range transported continental aerosol on the regional aerosol regime in the ENA using data collected at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility on Graciosa Island in 2017 during the Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) campaign. We develop an algorithm that integrates number concentrations of particles with optical particle dry diameter (Dp) between 100 and 1000 nm, single scattering albedo, and black carbon concentration to identify multiday events (with duration >24 consecutive hours) of long-range continental aerosol transport in the ENA. In 2017, we detected nine multiday events of long-range transported particles that correspond to ∼ 7.5 % of the year. For each event, we perform HYSPLIT 10 d backward trajectories analysis, and we evaluate CALIPSO aerosol products to assess, respectively, the origins and compositions of aerosol particles arriving at the ENA site. Subsequently, we group the events into three categories, (1) mixture of dust and marine aerosols, (2) mixture of marine and polluted continental aerosols from industrialized areas, and (3) biomass burning aerosol from North America and Canada, and we evaluate their influence on aerosol population and cloud condensation nuclei in terms of potential activation fraction and concentrations at supersaturation of 0.1 % and 0.2 %. The arrival of plumes dominated by the mixture of dust and marine aerosol in the ENA in the winter caused significant increases in baseline Ntot. Simultaneously, the baseline particle size modes and CCN potential activation fraction remained almost unvaried, while cloud condensation nuclei concentrations increased proportionally to Ntot. Events dominated by a mixture of marine and polluted continental aerosols in spring, fall, and winter led to a statistically significant increase in baseline Ntot, a shift towards larger particular sizes, a higher CCN potential activation fractions, and cloud condensation nuclei concentrations of >170 % and up to 240 % higher than during baseline regime. Finally, the transported aerosol plumes characterized by elevated concentration of biomass burning aerosol from continental wildfires detected in the summertime did not statistically contribute to increase baseline aerosol particle concentrations in the ENA. However, particle diameters were larger than under baseline conditions, and CCN potential activation fractions were >75 % higher. Consequentially, cloud concentration nuclei concentrations increased by ∼ 115 % during the period affected by the biomass burning events. Our results suggest that, through the year, multiday events of long-range continental aerosol transport periodically affect the ENA and represent a significant source of CCN in the marine boundary layer. Based on our analysis, in 2017, the multiday aerosol plume transport dominated by a mixture of dust and marine aerosol, a mixture of marine and polluted continental aerosols, and biomass burning aerosols caused increases in the NCCN baseline regime of, respectively, 6.6 %, 8 %, and 7.4 % at SS 0.1 % (and, respectively, 6.5 %, 8.2 %, and 7.3 % at SS 0.2 %) in the ENA.