Atmospheric transport of continentally derived
lipids to the tropical North Pacific

R. B. Gagosian, E. T. Peltzer and O. C. Zafiriou
Department of Chemistry
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.

Nature (1981) 291: 312-314.

Received: 7 January 1981.
Accepted: 9 March 1981.
Published: 28 May 1981.


Lipid class compounds have been used as source markers to ascertain the terrestrial, marine, or anthropogenic origin of atmospheric aerosols from rural continental and coastal oceanic environments. However, there are only limited data on the composition and source of lipids in remote marine aerosols. Studies off the West African coast suggest that surface waxes of terrestrial vascular plants are a major source of lipid class compounds in dust samples. Uniform concentrations of lipids found in aerosols from urban, rural and oceanic regions imply either a long residence time for continental material or a uniform production rate of the compounds over the oceans. It has also been concluded that oceanic aerosols have significant marine sources. However, previous organic chemical studies have not been conducted in conjunction with other chemical analyses of the aerosols or with climatological and meteorological studies. We report here, as part of the Sea/Air Exchange Program (SEAREX), the temporal variation of the transport of continentally-derived lipids (hydrocarbons, fatty alcohols and fatty acids) to the central tropical North Pacific.


We thank the Oceanography Section of the NSF for support (OCE 77-12914) as part of the SEAREX Program and R. A. Duce, C. Lee and J. Volkman for critical comments. We also thank J. Alford, E. Atlas, R. Cayer, C. Snipes, the staff of the University of Hawaii's Mid-Pacific Marine Laboratory and the Department of Energy for support during the field work in Enewetak.

This page was last updated on 7 August 1999.