Characterisation of Amazon Basin aerosols at the individual particle level by X-ray microanalytical techniques

Anna Worobiec, Imre Szalóki, Janos Osán, Willy Maenhaut, Elzbieta Anna Stefaniak, Rene Van Grieken

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As a part of the LBA/CLAIRE-98 project (LBA, Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia; CLAIRE, Cooperative LBA Regional Experiment), an extensive aerosol characterisation study was performed. The field work for the study took place in the Amazon Basin from 23 March to 15 April 1998. The collected aerosol samples were analysed by conventional and thin-window electron probe X-ray microanalysis (EPMA) combined with principal component analysis (PCA). Intensive transport of soil dust particles from the Sahara was observed at the end of March and beginning of April. The absolute number concentration of fine soil dust particles (0.30 μm<particle diameter<2 μm) reached a value of 3.5 million m-3. Changes in the total number of particles and reactions of the Saharan dust, i.e., agglomeration with sea salt above the Atlantic Ocean and with local particulate matter, were observed. Particle number concentrations were higher in the fine size fraction, with soil dust dominating in the first part of the campaign. A significant contribution of natural biogenic particles was observed in the last 2 weeks of the campaign, but only in the coarse size fraction. The organic part of the aerosol particles and their agglomeration with other types of particles was studied. The chemical transformation of airborne marine particles in the abundant presence of gaseous pollutants originating from biomass burning and biogenic emissions was observed as well, e.g. N-containing species such as sodium nitrate particles classified as aged sea salt. Carbon was present in almost all particle types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9217-9230
Number of pages14
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2007



  • Amazon Basin
  • Cluster analysis
  • EPMA
  • Individual aerosol particles
  • Principal component analysis
  • Saharan dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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