Enrichment of organic nitrogen in primary biological particles during advection over the North Atlantic

Manuel Dall'Osto*, Tina Santl-Temkiv, Colin O'Dowd, Roy M. Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
183 Downloads (Pure)


Using a number of datasets from single particle Aerosol Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (ATOFMS) measurements, we show only a minor presence of Organic Nitrogen (ON) species in Saharan dust particles (aerosol size range 0.2–3 μm) collected at their origin. ON enhancement is not observed on Saharan dust particles after atmospheric transport (48–96 h) either over the Tropical Ocean in the vicinity of Cape Verde, over the North Atlantic Ocean. In the negative ATOFMS mass spectra, signals due to ON species were found weaks in biological particles (rich in potassium and phosphate) in their source area, and signals due to alkylamines in the positive ATOFMS mass spectra were not found. In striking contrast, biological particles travelling within aerosol dust plumes are found to be enriched in ON species - including alkylamines - in North Atlantic Ocean air (Mace Head, Ireland), as seen in both positive and negative ATOFMS mass spectra. Contrary to filter based aerosol techniques which report ON enrichment within Saharan dust, our single particle mass spectrometry data - allowing study of the aerosol mixing state - suggests that the aging biological particles and not the associated transported aging Saharan dust may be a source of ON species. We suggest biogeochemical processes occurring in the atmosphere in which biological particles are responsible for ON production. This may be an important source of nutrients to the ocean via atmospheric deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117160
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date18 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • aerosol aging
  • biological particles
  • organic nitrogen
  • single particle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Enrichment of organic nitrogen in primary biological particles during advection over the North Atlantic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this