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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2010, Article ID 612132, 14 pages
Research Article

Polysaccharides, Proteins, and Phytoplankton Fragments: Four Chemically Distinct Types of Marine Primary Organic Aerosol Classified by Single Particle Spectromicroscopy

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92117, USA

Received 5 April 2010; Accepted 14 June 2010

Academic Editor: Markus D. Petters

Copyright © 2010 Lelia N. Hawkins and Lynn M. Russell. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Carbon-containing aerosol particles collected in the Arctic and southeastern Pacific marine boundary layers show distinct chemical signatures of proteins, calcareous phytoplankton, and two types of polysaccharides in Near-Edge Absorption X-ray Fine Structure (NEXAFS) spectromicroscopy. Arctic samples contained mostly supermicron sea salt cuboids with a polysaccharide-like organic coating. Southeastern Pacific samples contained both continental and marine aerosol types; of the 28 analyzed marine particles, 19 were characterized by sharp alkane and inorganic carbonate peaks in NEXAFS spectra and are identified as fragments of calcareous phytoplankton. Submicron spherical particles with spectral similarities to carbohydrate-like marine sediments were also observed in Pacific samples. In both regions, supermicron amide and alkane-containing particles resembling marine proteinaceous material were observed. These four chemical types provide a framework that incorporates several independent reports of previous marine aerosol observations, showing the diversity of the composition and morphology of ocean-derived primary particles.