In this study, trends and sources of atmospheric organic aerosols, or small particles in the atmosphere, are explored in the North American Arctic region (north of 66° latitude within the Arctic Circle). Organic aerosols are of interest due to their ability to absorb sunlight and heat the atmosphere, as well as cause snow and ice surfaces to darken. Aerosol samples were collected from summer 2012-summer 2013 and analyzed to determine the sources of the particles: fossil fuel combustion (i.e. burning natural gas flares, diesel, or coal), biomass combustion (the burning of grass, trees, or biofuels), and biogenic sources (marine and terrestrial). It was determined that fossil fuel burning was an important source of aerosols in the fall, while non-fossil sources of organic aerosols, including biogenic emissions and biomass burning events, were dominant in the spring and summer. Major source regions of these aerosols to the North American Arctic include the Russian Arctic, Canadian Arctic, the Alaskan Arctic, the Arctic Ocean and western interior Alaska. This study highlights the potential climatic effects of light absorbing organic aerosols and their sources in the North American Arctic, and can be useful for determining climate mitigation strategies in this region.
Link to article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016JD026194/full