Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
11 Feb 2015
Research article |  | 11 Feb 2015

A method for analysis of vanillic acid in polar ice cores

M. M. Grieman, J. Greaves, and E. S. Saltzman

Abstract. Biomass burning generates a wide range of organic compounds that are transported via aerosols to the polar ice sheets. Vanillic acid is a product of conifer lignin combustion, which has previously been observed in laboratory and ambient biomass burning aerosols. In this study a method was developed for analysis of vanillic acid in melted polar ice core samples. Vanillic acid was chromatographically separated using reversed-phase liquid chromatography (HPLC) and detected using electrospray ionization–triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS). Using a 100 μL injection loop and analysis time of 4 min, we obtained a detection limit of 77 ppt (parts per trillion by mass) and an analytical precision of ±10%. Measurements of vanillic acid in Arctic ice core samples from the Siberian Akademii Nauk core are shown as an example application of the method.