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Hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) Formation during Summertime Fog in an Arctic Oil Field

Liu, Jun and Gunsch, Matthew J. and Moffett, Claire E. and Xu, Lu and El Asmar, Rime and Zhang, Qi and Watson, Thomas B. and Allen, Hannah M. and Crounse, John D. and St. Clair, Jason and Kim, Michelle and Wennberg, Paul O. and Weber, Rodney J. and Sheesley, Rebecca J. and Pratt, Kerri A. (2021) Hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) Formation during Summertime Fog in an Arctic Oil Field. Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 8 (7). pp. 511-518. ISSN 2328-8930. doi:10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00357.

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Hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) is produced in the aqueous-phase reaction of formaldehyde (HCHO) and sulfur dioxide (SO₂) and has been proposed as a significant contributor to midlatitude wintertime pollution events. Here we report HMS detection within submicrometer atmospheric aerosols during frequent late summer, regional fog events in an Arctic oil field. The number fraction of individual particles containing HMS increased during fog periods, consistent with aqueous-phase formation. The single-particle mass spectra showed the primary particle signature (oil field emissions), plus secondary oxidized organics and sulfate, consistent with aqueous-phase processing. HMS mass concentrations ranged from below the ion chromatography limit of detection (0.3 ng/m³) to 1.6 ng/m³, with sulfate concentrations of 37–222 ng/m³. HCHO and SO₂ measurements suggest that the fog HMS production rate is ∼10 times higher in the oil fields than in the upwind Beaufort Sea. Aqueous-phase reactions of local oil field emissions during frequent summertime regional fog events likely have downwind impacts on Arctic aerosol composition. The potential for fog-based HMS production was estimated to be an order of magnitude higher in Fairbanks and Anchorage, AK, than in the oil fields and may explain the missing organosulfate source contributing to Fairbanks air quality.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemATOFMS data
Xu, Lu0000-0002-0021-9876
Zhang, Qi0000-0002-5203-8778
Allen, Hannah M.0000-0002-4218-5133
Crounse, John D.0000-0001-5443-729X
St. Clair, Jason0000-0002-9367-5749
Kim, Michelle0000-0002-4922-4334
Wennberg, Paul O.0000-0002-6126-3854
Weber, Rodney J.0000-0003-0765-8035
Pratt, Kerri A.0000-0003-4707-2290
Additional Information:© 2021 American Chemical Society. Received: May 9, 2021; Revised: June 16, 2021; Accepted: June 18, 2021. This study was supported by the NOAA Climate Program Office and Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle, and Climate Program through NA14OAR4310149 (University of Michigan) and NA14OAR4310150 (Baylor University) and a Department of Energy (DOE) Early Career Award (DE-SC0019172). The field work was also supported in part by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) ARM Climate Research Facility (field campaign 2013-6660). This research was also supported by a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program Early-Career Research Fellowship (2000007270). Q.Z. was supported by funding from the DOE Atmospheric System Research Program (DE-SC0017041). R.J.W. and R.E.A. were supported by the NSF Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) program (ICER-1927778). Meteorological and greenhouse gas data were obtained from the ARM Climate Research Facility. DOE ARM, Sandia National Laboratory, AMF3 field operators, and the U.S. Air Force are thanked for logistical assistance at Oliktok Point, AK. Ningxin Wang (University of California, Davis, Davis, CA) is thanked for assistance in analyzing the ACSM data, and Thomas Hanisco (NASA Goddard) and Glenn Wolfe (University of Maryland Baltimore County) are acknowledged for HCHO data contributions. The aircraft data were supported by the NASA ATom Earth Venture Suborbital-2 Program; the authors thank the pilots, technicians, and mechanics for their support during the ATom flights. ATom SO2 observations were supported by NASA (NNX15AG61A). ATom HCHO observations were supported by the NASA Upper Atmospheric Research Program and the NASA Tropospheric Composition Program. ATOFMS data are available at the DOE ARM data archive ( The authors thank Shaojie Song for helpful discussions of the HMS production calculations. The authors declare no competing financial interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)NA14OAR4310149
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)NA14OAR4310150
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0019172
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research2000007270
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0017041
Subject Keywords:Lipids, Anions, Liquids, Aerosols, Particulate matter
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210701-170842679
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) Formation during Summertime Fog in an Arctic Oil Field. Jun Liu, Matthew J. Gunsch, Claire E. Moffett, Lu Xu, Rime El Asmar, Qi Zhang, Thomas B. Watson, Hannah M. Allen, John D. Crounse, Jason St. Clair, Michelle Kim, Paul O. Wennberg, Rodney J. Weber, Rebecca J. Sheesley, and Kerri A. Pratt. Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2021 8 (7), 511-518; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00357
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109703
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 Jul 2021 20:30
Last Modified:14 Jul 2021 18:47

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