Atmospheric transport of mineral dust from the Indo-Gangetic Plain: Temporal variability, acid processing, and iron solubility
transport of chemical constituents from the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) to the Bay of Bengal is a conspicuous seasonal feature that occurs during the late NE-monsoon (December-March). With this perspective, aerosol composition and abundance of mineral dust have been studied during November 2009 to March 2010 from a sampling site (Kharagpur: 22.3°N, 87.3°E) in the IGP, representing the atmospheric outflow to the Bay of Bengal. The chemical composition of PM2.5 suggests the dominance of nss-SO42- (6.9-24.3 µg m-3); whereas the abundance of mineral dust varied from 3 to 18 µg m-3. The concentration of aerosol iron (FeTot) and its fractional solubility (Fews % = Fews/FeTot *100, where Fews is the water-soluble fraction of FeTot) varied from 60 to 1144 ng m-3 and from 6.7 to 26.5%, respectively. A striking similarity in the temporal variability of total inorganic acidity (TIA = NO3- + nss-SO42-) and Fews (%) provides evidence for acid processing of mineral dust (alluvium) during atmospheric transport from the IGP. The contribution of TIA to water-soluble inorganic species [(nss-SO42- + NO3-)/ΣWSIS], mass ratios of Ca/Al and Fe/Al, and abundance of dust (%) and Fews (%) in the IGP-outflow are similar to the aerosol composition over the Bay of Bengal. With the rapid increase in anthropogenic activities over south and south-east Asia, the enhanced fractional solubility of aerosol iron (attributed to acid processing of mineral dust) has implications to further increase in the air-sea deposition of Fe to the Ocean surface.