Sulfate-coated dust particles in the free troposphere over Japan

Tomoko Kojima, P R Buseck, Yasunobu Iwasaka, Atsushi Matsuki, Dmitri Trochkine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Airborne aerosol collections were performed over Wakasa bay (36°00′N, 135°30′E) in March and Kumano open sea (34°00′N, 136°50′E) and Seto (35°10′N, 137°10′E) in July 2001 at altitudes between 1.0 and 5.8 km. The particles were individually analyzed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Relatively large mineral-dust (mostly clay) particles were abundant in the March samples. They also dominated in July in the mid-troposphere higher than 4 km altitude, whereas sea salt and ammonium sulfate were more abundant at lower altitudes. Ca-coated grid samples show many traces of aqueous sulfate droplets. The proportions of former sulfate droplets to the total collected particles apparently increased with increasing relative humidity at the time of sampling. TEM analysis revealed that a significant fraction of these former droplets enclose mineral-dust particles as well as sea salt, soot, and fly ash. Some enclose mixtures of mineral-dust, sea-salt, soot, and fly ash particles. The results provide evidence that mineral dust from the Asian continent could acquire coatings of sulfate while being transported in the free troposphere. The mineral-dust particles probably acquired the sulfate coatings either through heterogeneous uptake of gaseous SO2 and subsequent oxidation or through coagulation with cloud or fog droplets. The presence of the mixed particles in sulfate droplets also indicates that aggregation of particles of different origins occurred through cloud processing. Such sulfate-coated dust particles would affect cloud formation, precipitation, and chemistry of the free troposphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-708
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Clouds
  • Individual particle analysis
  • Mineral dust
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Tropospheric aerosols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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