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Insights into the single-particle composition, size, mixing state, and aspect ratio of freshly emitted mineral dust from field measurements in the Moroccan Sahara using electron microscopy
Agnesh Panta, Konrad Kandler, Andrés Alastuey, Cristina González-Flórez, Adolfo Gonzalez-Romero, Martina Klose, Xavier Querol, Cristina Reche, Jesús Yus-Díez, Carlos Pérez García-Pando, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Abstract. The chemical and morphological properties of mineral dust aerosols emitted by wind erosion from arid and semi-arid regions influence climate, ocean, and land ecosystems; air quality; and multiple socio-economic sectors. However, there is an incomplete understanding of the emitted dust particle size distribution (PSD) in terms of its constituent minerals that typically result from the fragmentation of soil aggregates during wind erosion. The emitted dust PSD affects the duration of particle transport and thus each mineral's global distribution, along with its specific effect upon climate. This lack of understanding is largely due to the scarcity of relevant in situ measurements in dust sources. To advance our understanding of the physicochemical properties of the emitted dust PSD, we present insights into the elemental composition and morphology of individual dust particles collected during the FRontiers in dust minerAloGical coMposition and its Effects upoN climaTe (FRAGMENT) field campaign in the Moroccan Sahara in September 2019. We analyzed more than 300 000 freshly emitted individual particles by performing offline analysis in the laboratory using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX). Eight major particle-type classes were identified with clay minerals making up the majority of the analyzed particles both by number and mass, followed by quartz, whereas carbonates and feldspar contributed to a lesser extent. We provide an exhaustive analysis of the PSD and potential mixing state of different particle types, focusing largely on iron-rich (Fe oxide-hydroxides) and feldspar particles, which are key to the effects of dust upon radiation and clouds, respectively. Nearly pure or externally mixed Fe oxide-hydroxides are present mostly in diameters smaller than 2 µm, with the highest fraction below 1 µm at about 3.75 % abundance by mass. Fe oxide-hydroxides tend to be increasingly internally mixed with other minerals, especially clays, as particle size increases; i.e., the volume fraction of Fe oxide-hydroxides in aggregates decreases with particle size. Pure (externally mixed) feldspar represented 3.2 % of all the particles by mass, of which we estimated about a 10th to be K-feldspar. The externally mixed total feldspar and K-feldspar abundances are relatively invariant with particle size, in contrast to the increasing abundance of feldspar-like (internally mixed) aggregates with particle size with mass fractions ranging from 5 % to 18 %. We also found that overall the median aspect ratio is rather constant across particle size and mineral groups, although we obtain slightly higher aspect ratios for internally mixed particles. The detailed information on the composition of freshly emitted individual dust particles and quantitative analysis of their mixing state presented here can be used to constrain climate models including mineral species in their representation of the dust cycle.
Keywords: mineral dust, Moroccan Sahara, electron microscopy
Published in RUNG: 13.05.2024; Views: 387; Downloads: 3
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