Characterization of individual airborne particles by using aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry at Mace Head, Ireland

Manuel Dall'Osto*, D. C S Beddows, Robert P. Kinnersley, Roy M. Harrison, Robert J. Donovan, Mathew R. Heal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


An aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer was deployed at Mace Head (Ireland dring August 2002. The measurements provide qualitative chemical composition and size distribution (0.3-3 μm) information for single particles. Three broad categories of particles: sea salt, dust, and carbon-containing particles were identified and apportioned, and their temporal evolution (1 hour resolution) is described. Aerosol sources were correlated with meteorological factors and with air mass trajectories, demonstrating long-range transport of different continental air masses from Europe, Africa, and America. The major class of particles was derived from sea salt and was subdivided into pure, mixed, and aged sea salt according to the extent of displacement of chloride by nitrate. Two types of dust particles were found mainly in the coarse mode (>1 μm); the former, thought to originate from the Sahara, presented an aluminium/silicon signature, while the latter, of more local origin, had a calcium-rich composition. Carbon-containing particles were mainly distributed in the fine mode (<1 μm) and associated with different chemical species in different size modes, suggesting different mechanisms of formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberD21302
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number21
Early online date4 Nov 2004
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2004


  • Aerosol mass spectrometry
  • Mace Head
  • Marine aerosols
  • Saharan dust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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