Real-time analysis of insoluble particles in glacial ice using single-particle mass spectrometry
Insoluble aerosol particles trapped in glacial ice provide insight into past climates, but analysis requires information on climatically relevant particle properties, such as size, abundance, and internal mixing. We present a new analytical method using a time-of-flight single-particle mass spectrometer (SPMS) to determine the composition and size of insoluble particles in glacial ice over an aerodynamic size range of ∼ 0.2–3.0 µm diameter. Using samples from two Greenland ice cores, we developed a procedure to nebulize insoluble particles suspended in melted ice, evaporate condensed liquid from those particles, and transport them to the SPMS for analysis. We further determined size-dependent extraction and instrument transmission efficiencies to investigate the feasibility of determining particle-class-specific mass concentrations. We find SPMS can be used to provide constraints on the aerodynamic size, composition, and relative abundance of most insoluble particulate classes in ice core samples. We describe the importance of post-aqueous processing to particles, a process which occurs due to nebulization of aerosols from an aqueous suspension of originally soluble and insoluble aerosol components. This study represents an initial attempt to use SPMS as an emerging technique for the study of insoluble particulates in ice cores.