Source Sector Analysis of Marine and Other Volatile Organic Compounds on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
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Phytoplankton produce approximately 40% of the world’s oxygen and play a critical role in regulating global climate by the drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide and, as suggested by increasing evidence, through the emission of climate-relevant volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Currently, there is a gap in knowledge surrounding long-term emissions of phytoplankton related VOCs under field conditions. In a first of its kind, this study combined continuous measurements of total and specific VOCs on Sable Island throughout 2016 with the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model, meteorological and remote sensing data to allocate measured compounds into three different upwind source sectors. 48% of VOCs were found to originate from marine phytoplankton emissions, 40% from terrestrial biogenic sources and 11% from anthropogenic activity. These results challenge current methods and assumptions of in situ measurements and shed light on the likelihood of various other sources interfering with remote marine VOC measurements.