PAHs on a west-to-east transect across the tropical Atlantic Ocean

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Surface water and atmospheric samples were collected across the tropical Atlantic Ocean on a transect of the R/V Endeavor in summer 2009 and analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Across the entire tropical Atlantic Ocean, phenanthrene displayed on average highest dissolved concentrations (170 pg L-1), followed by pyrene (70 pg L-1) and fluoranthene (30 pg L-1). The Amazon plume was characterized by elevated dissolved concentrations of phenanthrene and benzo(g,h,i)fluoranthene. The warm eddy that we accidentally sampled at 66 W displayed highest concentrations of PAHs across the entire cruise, with phenanthrene, pyrene, and fluoranthrene all >1 ng L-1. After having crossed the warm core, concentrations decreased back to previous levels. Samples taken in the Gulf Stream were below detection limit for all parent PAHs, implying very efficient removal processes. Dissolved dimethylphenanthrenes were frequently detected in the samples from the southern hemisphere, the Amazon plume, and in samples characteristic of the Gulf Stream and the U.S. East Coast. Atmospheric concentrations were dominated by gas-phase fluoranthene, pyrene, phenanthrene, and retene. Air-water gradients indicated that PAHs are mostly undergoing net deposition across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, with conditions closer to equilibrium off the U.S. East Coast and in Rhode Island Sound. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

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Environmental Science and Technology