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Abundances and variability of tropospheric volatile organic compounds at the South Pole and other Antarctic locations


Multiyear (2000-2006) seasonal measurements of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, halogenated species, dimethyl sulfide, carbonyl sulfide and C1-C4 alkyl nitrates at the South Pole are presented for the first time. At the South Pole, short-lived species (such as the alkenes) typically were not observed above their limits of detection because of long transit times from source regions. Peak mixing ratios of the longer lived species with anthropogenic sources were measured in late winter (August and September) with decreasing mixing ratios throughout the spring. In comparison, compounds with a strong oceanic source, such as bromoform and methyl iodide, had peak mixing ratios earlier in the winter (June and July) because of decreased oceanic production during the winter months. Dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is also oceanically emitted but has a short lifetime, was rarely measured above 5 pptv. This is in contrast to high DMS mixing ratios at coastal locations and shows the importance of photochemical removal during transport to the pole. Alkyl nitrate mixing ratios peaked during April and then decreased throughout the winter. The dominant source of the alkyl nitrates in the region is believed to be oceanic emissions rather than photochemical production due to low alkane levels.Sampling of other tropospheric environments via a Twin Otter aircraft included the west coast of the Ross Sea and large stretches of the Antarctic Plateau. In the coastal atmosphere, a vertical gradient was found with the highest mixing ratios of marine emitted compounds at low altitudes. Conversely, for anthropogenically produced species the highest mixing ratios were measured at the highest altitudes, suggesting long-range transport to the continent. Flights flown through the plume of Mount Erebus, an active volcano, revealed that both carbon monoxide and carbonyl sulfide are emitted with an OCS/CO molar ratio of 3.3 × 10-3 consistent with direct observations by other investigators within the crater rim. © 2010.

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