Isotopic constraints on atmospheric sulfate formation pathways in the Mt. Everest region, southern Tibetan Plateau

Wang, Kun; Hattori, Shohei; Lin, Mang; Ishino, Sakiko; Alexander, Becky; Kamezaki, Kazuki; Yoshida, Naohiro; Kang, Shichang

As an important atmosphere constituent, sulfate aerosols exert profound impacts on climate, the ecological environment, and human health. The Tibetan Plateau (TP), identified as the “Third Pole”, contains the largest land ice masses outside the poles and has attracted widespread attention for its environment and climatic change. However, the mechanisms of sulfate formation in this specific region still remain poorly characterized. An oxygen-17 anomaly (inline-formulaΔ17O) has been used as a probe to constrain the relative importance of different pathways leading to sulfate formation. Here, we report the inline-formulaΔ17O values in atmospheric sulfate collected at a remote site in the Mt. Everest region to decipher the possible formation mechanisms of sulfate in such a pristine environment. Throughout the sampling campaign (April–September 2018), the inline-formulaΔ17O in non-dust sulfate show an average of inline-formula1.7 ‰±0.5 ‰, which is higher than most existing data on modern atmospheric sulfate. The seasonality of inline-formulaΔ17O in non-dust sulfate exhibits high values in the pre-monsoon and low values in the monsoon, opposite to the seasonality in inline-formulaΔ17O for both sulfate and nitrate (i.e., minima in the warm season and maxima in the cold season) observed from diverse geographic sites. This high inline-formulaΔ17O in non-dust sulfate found in this region clearly indicates the important role of the inline-formulaS(IV)+O3 pathway in atmospheric sulfate formation promoted by conditions of high cloud water pH. Overall, our study provides an observational constraint on atmospheric acidity in altering sulfate formation pathways, particularly in dust-rich environments, and such identification of key processes provides an important basis for a better understanding of the sulfur cycle in the TP.

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Wang, Kun / Hattori, Shohei / Lin, Mang / et al: Isotopic constraints on atmospheric sulfate formation pathways in the Mt. Everest region, southern Tibetan Plateau. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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