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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Plymouth Marine Lab
  • Biogeochemistry Research Centre, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK
  • School of Physics and Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
  • Department of Environmental Sciences/Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University
  • Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Research Council of Italy (ISAC-CNR)
  • Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH/ICE-HT), Patras, Greece
  • Institute of Marine Sciences, ICM-CSIC, Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 37-49. E-08003, Barcelona, Spain


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


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