Chemical composition of air masses transported from Asia to the U.S. West coast during ITCT 2K2: Fossil fuel combustion versus biomass-burning signatures

J. A. de Gouw, O. R. Cooper, C. Warneke, P. K. Hudson, F. C. Fehsenfeld, J. S. Holloway, G. Hübler, Jr K. Nicks, J. B. Nowak, D. D. Parrish, T. B. Ryerson, E. L. Atlas, S. G. Donnelly, S. M. Schauffler, V. Stroud, K. Johnson, G. R. Carmichael, D. G. Streets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


As part of the Intercontinental Transport and Chemical Transformation experiment in 2002 (ITCT 2K2), a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) WP-3D research aircraft was used to study the long-range transport of Asian air masses toward the west coast of North America. During research flights on 5 and 17 May, strong enhancements of carbon monoxide (CO) and other species were observed in air masses that had been transported from Asia. The hydrocarbon composition of the air masses indicated that the highest CO levels were related to fossil fuel use. During the flights on 5 and 17 May and other days, the levels of several biomass-buming indicators increased with altitude. This was true for acetonitrile (CH3CN), methyl chloride (CH3Cl), the ratio of acetylene (C2H2) to propane (C3H8), and, on May 5, the percentage of particles measured by the particle analysis by laser mass spectrometry (PALMS) instrument that were attributed to biomass burning based on their carbon and potassium content. An ensemble of back-trajectories, calculated from the U.S. west coast over a range of latitudes and altitudes for the entire ITCT 2K2 period, showed that air masses from Southeast Asia and China were generally observed at higher altitudes than air from Japan and Korea. Emission inventories estimate the contribution of biomass burning to the total emissions to be low for Japan and Korea, higher for China, and the highest for Southeast Asia. Combined with the origin of the air masses versus altitude, this qualitatively explains the increase with altitude, averaged over the whole ITCT 2K2 period, of the different biomass-burning indicators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomass burning
  • Fossil-fuel combustion
  • Long-range transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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