20 Jul 2023
 | 20 Jul 2023

Tropical tropospheric aerosol sources and chemical composition observed at high-altitude in the Bolivian Andes

C. Isabel Moreno, Radovan Krejci, Jean-Luc Jaffrezo, Gaëlle Uzu, Andrés Alastuey, Marcos F. Andrade, Valeria Mardóñez, Alkuin Maximilian Koenig, Diego Aliaga, Claudia Mohr, Laura Ticona, Fernando Velarde, Luis Blacutt, Ricardo Forno, David N. Whiteman, Alfred Wiedensohler, Patrick Ginot, and Paolo Laj

Abstract. The chemical composition of PM10 and PM2.5 was studied at the summit of Mt. Chacaltaya (5380 masl, lat.-16.346950º, lon. -68.128250º) providing a unique long-term record spanning from December 2011 to March 2020. The chemical composition of aerosol at the Chacaltaya GAW site is representative of the regional background, seasonally affected by biomass burning practices and by nearby anthropogenic emissions from the metropolitan area of La Paz – El Alto. Concentration levels are clearly influenced by seasons with minimum occurring during the wet season (December to March) and maxima occurring during the dry and transition seasons (April to November). Ions, total carbon (EC+OC) and saccharide concentrations range between 558–1785, 384–1120 and 4.3–25.5 ng m-3 for bulk PM10 and 917–2308, 519–1175 and 3.9–24.1 ng m-3 for PM2.5, respectively. Such concentrations are overall lower compared to other high-altitude stations around the globe, but higher than Amazonian remote sites (except for OC). For PM10, there is dominance of insoluble mineral matter (33–56 % of the mass), organic matter (7–34 %) and secondary inorganic aerosol (15–26 %). Chemical composition profiles were identified for different origins: EC, NO3-, NH4+, glucose, C2O4-2 for the nearby urban and rural areas; OC, EC, NO3-, K+, acetate, formiate, levoglucosan, some F- and Br- for biomass burning; MeSO3-, Na+, Mg2+, Br- for aged marine emissions from the Pacific Ocean; arabitol, mannitol, K+ for biogenic emissions; Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+ for soil dust, and SO42-, F-, and some Cl- for volcanism. Regional biomass-burning practices influence the soluble fraction of the aerosol particularly between July and September. The organic fraction is present all year round and has both anthropogenic (biomass burning and other combustion sources) and natural (primary and secondary biogenic emissions) origins, with the OC/EC mass ratio being practically constant all year round (10.5±38.9). Peruvian volcanism dominates the SO42- concentration since 2014, though it presents a strong temporal variability due to the intermittence of the sources and seasonal changes on the transport patterns. These measurements represent some of the first long-term observations of aerosol chemical composition at a continental high-altitude site in the tropical Southern hemisphere.

C. Isabel Moreno et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1298', Hector Jorquera, 12 Oct 2023
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1298', Héctor Jorquera, 13 Oct 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1298', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Oct 2023

C. Isabel Moreno et al.

C. Isabel Moreno et al.


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Short summary
Aerosol chemical composition (ions, sugars, carbonaceous matter) from 2011 to 2020 was studied at Mt. Chacaltaya (5380 masl, Bolivian Andes), in a region lacking data. Minimum concentrations occur in the rainy season and maxima in the dry-transition seasons. The origins of the aerosol are located in a radius of hundreds of kilometers: nearby urban and rural areas; natural biogenic emissions; vegetation burning from Amazonia and Chaco; Pacific Ocean emissions; soil dust; and Peruvian volcanism.