Organic trace analysis of atmospheric marker species in ice cores

To place recent environmental and climatic changes in a longer-term context, and to disentangle anthropogenic and natural sources of the particulate burden of the atmosphere, information on past atmospheric conditions is necessary. Ice cores from polar regions and mid-latitude cold glaciers are valuable environmental archives, as they preserve past atmospheric aerosol deposited with snowfall. Hence, the analysis of aerosol-related chemical compounds in ice core samples can give information on past environmental and climatic conditions. Most studies have focused on inorganic aerosol-related parameters and just a few organic compounds. Thus, a wealth of information remains uncollected and a characterization of a larger fraction of the organic material present in ice and snow is highly desirable. This reflects the major goal of the project, the development of organic trace analytical methodologies based on LC-HRMS to measure an array of organic compounds, focusing on new biogenic SOA and biomass burning markers. The choice of appropriate marker molecules is based on the potential information content to reveal certain characteristics about their respective sources, i.e. terrestrial ecosystems and vegetation fires, and on their atmospheric lifetime, enabling transport also to remote regions. In addition to these targeted analytes also non-target screening will be performed. In close cooperation with a well-established ice core laboratory at the PSI in Switzerland the developed analytical techniques will be applied to an ice core from the Belukha glacier in the Siberian Altai.