The atmospheric composition of the central North Atlantic region has been sampled using the FAAM BAe146 instrumented aircraft during the Intercontinental Transport of Ozone and Precursors (ITOP) campaign, part of the wider International Consortium for Atmospheric Research on Transport and Transformation (ICARTT). This paper presents an overview of the ITOP campaign. Between late July and early August 2004, twelve flights comprising 72 hours of measurement were made in a region from approximately 20 to 40°W and 33 to 47°N centered on Faial Island, Azores, ranging in altitude from 50 to 9000 m. The vertical profiles of O3 and CO are consistent with previous observations made in this region during 1997 and our knowledge of the seasonal cycles within the region. A cluster analysis technique is used to partition the data set into air mass types with distinct chemical signatures. Six clusters provide a suitable balance between cluster generality and specificity. The clusters are labeled as biomass burning, low level outflow, upper level outflow, moist lower troposphere, marine and upper troposphere. During this summer, boreal forest fire emissions from Alaska and northern Canada were found to provide a major perturbation of tropospheric composition in CO, PAN, organic compounds and aerosol. Anthropogenic influenced air from the continental boundary layer of the USA was clearly observed running above the marine boundary layer right across the mid-Atlantic, retaining high pollution levels in VOCs and sulfate aerosol. Upper level outflow events were found to have far lower sulfate aerosol, resulting from washout on ascent, but much higher PAN associated with the colder temperatures. Lagrangian links with flights of other aircraft over the USA and Europe show that such signatures are maintained many days downwind of emission regions. Some other features of the data set are highlighted, including the strong perturbations to many VOCs and OVOCs in this remote region
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