Arabitol, mannitol, and glucose as tracers of primary biogenic organic aerosol: the influence of environmental factors on ambient air concentrations and spatial distribution over France
The primary sugar compounds (SCs, defined as glucose, arabitol, and mannitol) are widely recognized as suitable molecular markers to characterize and apportion primary biogenic organic aerosol emission sources. This work improves our understanding of the spatial behavior and distribution of these chemical species and evidences their major effective environmental drivers. We conducted a large study focusing on the daily (24 h) PM10 SC concentrations for 16 increasing space scale sites (local to nationwide), over at least 1 complete year. These sites are distributed in several French geographic areas of different environmental conditions. Our analyses, mainly based on the examination of the short-term evolutions of SC concentrations, clearly show distance-dependent correlations. SC concentration evolutions are highly synchronous at an urban city scale and remain well correlated throughout the same geographic regions, even if the sites are situated in different cities. However, sampling sites located in two distinct geographic areas are poorly correlated. Such a pattern indicates that the processes responsible for the evolution of the atmospheric SC concentrations present a spatial homogeneity over typical areas of at least tens of kilometers. Local phenomena, such as the resuspension of topsoil and associated microbiota, do no account for the major emissions processes of SC in urban areas not directly influenced by agricultural activities. The concentrations of SC and cellulose display remarkably synchronous temporal evolution cycles at an urban site in Grenoble, indicating a common source ascribed to vegetation. Additionally, higher concentrations of SC at another site located in a crop field region occur during each harvest periods, indicating resuspension processes of plant materials (crop detritus, leaf debris) and associated microbiota for agricultural and nearby urbanized areas. Finally, ambient air temperature, relative humidity, and vegetation density constitute the main effective drivers of SC atmospheric concentrations.