Simultaneous detection of alkylamines in the surface ocean and atmosphere of the Antarctic sympagic environment

Manuel Dall'Osto, Ruth L. Airs, Rachael Beale, Charlotte Cree, Mark F. Fitzsimons, David Beddows, Roy Harrison, Darius Ceburnis, Colin O´Dowd, Matteo Rinaldi, Marco Paglione, Athanasios Nenes, Stefano Decesari, Rafel Simó

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Measurements of alkylamines from seawater and atmospheric samples collected simultaneously across the Antarctic Peninsula, South Orkney and South Georgia Islands are reported. Concentrations of mono-, di- and trimethylamine (MMA, DMA and TMA, respectively), and their precursors, the quarternary amines glycine betaine and choline, were enhanced in sympagic sea water samples relative to ice-devoid pelagic ones, suggesting the microbiota of sea ice and sea ice-influenced ocean is a major source of these compounds. Primary sea-spray aerosol particles artificially generated by bubbling seawater samples were investigated by Aerosol Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (ATOFMS) of single particles; their mixing state indicated that alkylamines were aerosolized with sea spray from dissolved and particulate organic nitrogen pools. Despite this unequivocal sea spray-associated source of alkylamines, ATOFMS analyses of ambient aerosols in the sympagic region indicated that the majority (75-89 %) of aerosol alkylamines were of secondary origin, i.e., incorporated into the aerosol after gaseous air-sea exchange. These findings show that sympagic seawater properties are a source of alkylamines influencing the biogenic aerosol fluxed from the ocean into the boundary layer; these organic nitrogen compounds should be considered when assessing secondary aerosol formation processes in Antarctica.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854–862
Number of pages9
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number5
Early online date5 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Polar biogeochemistry
  • Polar ecology
  • Secondary Aerosols
  • Southern Ocean
  • marine aerosol
  • polar emissions


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