Elemental and Single Particle Aerosol Characterisation at a Background Station in Kazakhstan

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Abstract

Aerosol sampling in Kazakhstan was performed at a remote astronomical observatory in the Tien Shan mountain region. The background character of the site was considered by comparing the elemental concentrations, obtained by Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF), with those reported for other remote stations. On the basis of the variability of the elemental concentrations and the source of origin, the elements could be classified into two main groups. These findings, complemented with enrichment factor calculations revealed the first group of elements to be originating mainly from local sources, and the second group to be related to long-range transport of anthropogenic aerosol. Automated individual particle analysis by electron probe X-ray microanalysis (EPXMA) and subsequent cluster analysis resulted in the identification of 12 distinct aerosol particle types. Relative particle type abundances were converted to absolute abundances by estimating the particle number concentrations for the detected particles, exploring the seasonal particle variation. Based on the absolute abundances, a strong seasonal pattern was found for Si-Al-Fe-, Si-, Ca-S-Si-, Ca-Si-, Fe-Si- and Ti-Si-rich particles. These particle types can mainly be attributed to the local soil source. For most of the remaining particle types, a completely different seasonal trend was found, which can be related to anthropogenic emissions. Their abundance in winter can be related to long-range transport of anthropogenic aerosols. As a result, these data can be representative for the Tien Shan site and may be useful to climate modellers and environmentalists.

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