Measurement report: The chemical composition and temporal variability of aerosol particles at Tuktoyaktuk, Canada during the Year of Polar Prediction Special Observing Period

WashU affiliated authors: Crystal Weagle (Dept. of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering)


The chemical composition, sources, and concentrations of aerosol particles vary on a seasonal basis in the Arctic. While existing research has focused on understanding the occurrence of aerosol particles during the Arctic winter and spring, less is known of their occurrence during the Arctic summer. In this study, atmospheric aerosol particle chemical composition and concentration were determined during July-September 2018 at Tuktoyaktuk, NT, Canada (69.4° N, 133.0° W) to coincide with the Year of Polar Prediction’s 2nd Special Observing Period in the Arctic. The chemical composition of fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM10-2.5) aerosol filter samples suggests the ocean, mineral/road dust, and combustion were sources of the sampled aerosol particles. Mass concentrations of PM2 and PM10, estimated from optical particle counter measurements, remained within a similar range during the study. However, elevated mass concentrations coincided with a festival in the community of Tuktoyaktuk, suggesting local human activity was an important source of aerosol particles. Mass concentrations of PM2, which promote negative health effects in humans, were significantly lower at Tuktoyaktuk than the national air quality standard recommended by the Government of Canada. These measurements provide an important baseline to compare with future measurements associated with the assessment of aerosol chemistry and air quality in the Arctic.