Long-term high frequency measurements of ethane, benzene and methyl chloride at Ragged Point, Barbados: Identification of long-range transport events

A. T. Archibald, C. S. Witham, M. J. Ashfold, A. J. Manning, S. O'Doherty, B. R. Greally, D. Young, D. E. Shallcross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Here we present high frequency long-term observations of ethane, benzene and methyl chloride from the AGAGE Ragged Point, Barbados, monitoring station made using a custom built GC-MS system. Our analysis focuses on the first three years of data (2005-2007) and on the interpretation of periodic episodes of high concentrations of these compounds. We focus specifically on an exemplar episode during September 2007 to assess if these measurements are impacted by long-range transport of biomass burning and biogenic emissions. We use the Lagrangian Particle Dispersion model, NAME, run forwards and backwards in time to identify transport of air masses from the North East of Brazil during these events. To assess whether biomass burning was the cause we used hot spots detected using the MODIS instrument to act as point sources for simulating the release of biomass burning plumes. Excellent agreement for the arrival time of the simulated biomass burning plumes and the observations of enhancements in the trace gases indicates that biomass burning strongly influenced these measurements. These modelling data were then used to determine the emissions required to match the observations and compared with bottom up estimates based on burnt area and literature emission factors. Good agreement was found between the two techniques highlight the important role of biomass burning. The modelling constrained by in situ observations suggests that the emission factors were representative of their known upper limits, with the in situ data suggesting slightly greater emissions of ethane than the literature emission factors account for. Further analysis was performed concluding only a small role for biogenic emissions of methyl chloride from South America impacting measurements at Ragged Point. These results highlight the importance of long-term high frequency measurements of NMHC and ODS and highlight how these data can be used to determine sources of emissions 1000's km away.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000068
JournalElementa
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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