Mixing states of Amazon basin aerosol particles transported over long distances using transmission electron microscopy

Kouji Adachi, Naga Oshima, Zhaoheng Gong, Suzane De Sá, Adam P. Bateman, Scot T. Martin, Joel F. De Brito, Paulo Artaxo, Glauber G. Cirino, Arthur J.Sedlacek Iii, Peter R. Buseck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The Amazon basin is important for understanding the global climate because of its carbon cycle and as a laboratory for obtaining basic knowledge of the continental background atmosphere. Aerosol particles play an important role in the climate and weather, and knowledge of their compositions and mixing states is necessary to understand their influence on the climate. For this study, we collected aerosol particles from the Amazon basin during the Green Ocean Amazon (GoAmazon2014/5) campaign (February to March 2014) at the T3 site, which is located about 70 km from Manaus, and analyzed them using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). TEM has better spatial resolution than other instruments, which enables us to analyze the occurrences of components that attach to or are embedded within other particles. Based on the TEM results of more than 10 000 particles from several transport events, this study shows the occurrences of individual particles including compositions, size distributions, number fractions, and possible sources of materials that mix with other particles. Aerosol particles during the wet season were from both natural sources such as the Amazon forest, Saharan desert, Atlantic Ocean, and African biomass burning and anthropogenic sources such as Manaus and local emissions. These particles mix together at an individual particle scale. The number fractions of mineral dust and sea-salt particles increased almost 3-fold when long-range transport (LRT) from the African continent occurred. Nearly 20 % of mineral dust and primary biological aerosol particles had attached sea salts on their surfaces. Sulfates were also internally mixed with sea-salt and mineral dust particles. The TEM element mapping images showed that several components with sizes of hundreds of nanometers from different sources commonly occur within individual LRT aerosol particles. We conclude that many aerosol particles from natural sources change their compositions by mixing during transport. The compositions and mixing states of these particles after emission result in changes in their hygroscopic and optical properties and should be considered when assessing their effects on climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11923-11939
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 23 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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