Organic nitrogen in rain and aerosol in the eastern Mediterranean atmosphere: An association with atmospheric dust

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Mace K., Kubilay N., Duce R.

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, vol.108, 2003 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 108
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.1029/2002jd002997
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: atmospheric dust, organic nitrogen, nitrogen cycling, Mediterranean Sea, Sahara, SAHARAN DUST, DEPOSITION, PHYTOPLANKTON, BACTERIA, INPUTS, UREA, SEA
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


From March through early May of 2000, rain and bulk aerosol samples were collected at a coastal site on the eastern Mediterranean Sea at Erdemli, Turkey, and analyzed for nitrogen (N) species, including nitrate (NO3-), nitrite (NO2-), ammonium (NH4+), water-soluble organic N, urea, and dissolved free amino acids. Other ions were also analyzed, including Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, Na+, Cl-, and SO42-. Water-soluble organic N was found to contribute similar to17% and similar to26% of the total water-soluble N in rain and aerosols, respectively. Organic N concentrations within rain and aerosols exhibited statistically significant linear relationships to Ca2+ ion (R(sqr)similar to0.75, P<0.05), suggesting a relationship to calcite (CaCO3) in atmospheric dust. Kinematic trajectory analyses indicated the origin of winds from arid regions, mainly in northern Africa, in 70% of the aerosols sampled. Earth Probe/Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer aerosol index data also confirmed the influence of atmospheric dust in the region on days when Ca2+ concentrations were elevated, and trajectory analyses suggested northern Africa as a source region. The combined ion, trajectory, and aerosol index data suggest that organic N is associated with atmospheric dust in this region. Urea N and amino N represented a small percentage of the organic N fraction. In rain and aerosols, urea represented similar to 11% and <1%, respectively, of the total organic N. While amino N contributed minimally to organic N totals (similar to1% of total organic N in aerosols), the individual amino acids contributing similar to75% of amino N were indicative of biological organisms. Further research is needed to decipher the influence from biology and gas phase adsorption of anthropogenically derived water-soluble organics on organic N totals.