Organic carbon at a remote site of the western Mediterranean Basin: sources and chemistry during the ChArMEx SOP2 field experiment

Michoud, Vincent; Sciare, Jean; Sauvage, Stéphane; Dusanter, Sébastien; Léonardis, Thierry; Gros, Valérie; Kalogridis, Cerise; Zannoni, Nora; Féron, Anaïs; Petit, Jean-Eudes; Crenn, Vincent; Baisnée, Dominique; Sarda-Estève, Roland; Bonnaire, Nicolas; Marchand, Nicolas; DeWitt, H. Langley; Pey, Jorge; Colomb, Aurélie; Gheusi, François; Szidat, Sönke; ... (2017). Organic carbon at a remote site of the western Mediterranean Basin: sources and chemistry during the ChArMEx SOP2 field experiment. Atmospheric chemistry and physics, 17(14), pp. 8837-8865. European Geosciences Union 10.5194/acp-17-8837-2017

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The ChArMEx (Chemistry and Aerosols Mediterranean Experiments) SOP2 (special observation period 2) field campaign took place from 15 July to 5 August 2013 in the western Mediterranean Basin at Ersa, a remote site in Cape Corse. During the campaign more than 80 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including oxygenated species, were measured by different online and offline techniques. At the same time, an exhaustive description of the chemical composition of fine aerosols was performed with an aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM). Low levels of anthropogenic VOCs (typically tens to hundreds of parts per trillion for individual species) and black carbon (0.1–0.9 μgm-3) were observed, while significant levels of biogenic species (peaking at the ppb level) were measured. Furthermore, secondary oxygenated VOCs (OVOCs) largely dominated the VOC speciation during the campaign, while organic matter (OM) dominated the aerosol chemical composition, representing 55% of the total mass of non-refractory PM1 on average (average of 3.74±1.80 μgm-3), followed by sulfate (27 %, 1.83±1.06 μgm-3), ammonium (13 %, 0.90±0.55 μgm-3) and nitrate (5 %, 0.31±0.18 μgm-3).
Positive matrix factorization (PMF) and concentration field (CF) analyses were performed on a database containing 42 VOCs (or grouped VOCs), including OVOCs, to identify the covariation factors of compounds that are representative of primary emissions or chemical transformation processes. A six-factor solution was found for the PMF analysis, including a primary and secondary biogenic factor correlated with temperature and exhibiting a clear diurnal profile. In addition, three anthropogenic factors characterized by compounds with various lifetimes and/or sources have been identified (long-lived, medium-lived and short-lived anthropogenic factors). The anthropogenic nature of these factors was confirmed by the CF analysis, which identified potential source areas known for intense anthropogenic emissions (north of Italy and southeast of France). Finally, a factor characterized by OVOCs of both biogenic and anthropogenic origin was found. This factor was well correlated with submicron organic aerosol (OA) measured by an aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM), highlighting the close link between OVOCs and organic aerosols; the latter is mainly associated (96 %) with the secondary OA fraction. The source apportionment of OA measured by ACSM led to a three-factor solution identified as hydrogenlike OA (HOA), semi-volatile oxygenated OA (SV-OOA) and low volatility OOA (LV-OOA) for averaged mass concentrations of 0.13, 1.59 and 1.92 μgm-3, respectively.
A combined analysis of gaseous PMF factors with inorganic and organic fractions of aerosols helped distinguish between anthropogenic continental and biogenic influences on the aerosol- and gas-phase compositions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP)
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Szidat, Sönke


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry




European Geosciences Union




Sönke Szidat

Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2017 16:02

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:06

Publisher DOI:





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