Research Article

In Situ Measurements of Organics, Meteoritic Material, Mercury, and Other Elements in Aerosols at 5 to 19 Kilometers

Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1664-1669
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1664

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Abstract

In situ measurements of the chemical composition of individual aerosol particles at altitudes between 5 and 19 kilometers reveal that upper tropospheric aerosols often contained more organic material than sulfate. Although stratospheric aerosols primarily consisted of sulfuric acid and water, many also contained meteoritic material. Just above the tropopause, small amounts of mercury were found in over half of the aerosol particles that were analyzed. Overall, there was tremendous variety in aerosol composition. One measure of this diversity is that at least 45 elements were detected in aerosol particles. These results have wide implications for the complexity of aerosol sources and chemistry. They also offer possibilities for understanding the transport of atmospheric aerosols.

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