Aged Boreal Biomass Burning Size Distributions from Bortas 2011
Abstract:Biomass-burning aerosols contribute to aerosol radiative forcing on the climate system. The magnitude of this effect is partially determined by aerosol size distributions, which are strong functions of source fire characteristics (e.g. fuel type, MCE) and in-plume microphysical processing. The uncertainties in biomass-burning emission number size-distributions in climate model inventories lead to uncertainties in the CCN concentrations and forcing estimates derived from these models.
The BORTAS-B measurement campaign was designed to sample boreal biomass-burning outflow over Eastern Canada in the summer of 2011. Using these BORTAS-B data, we implement plume criteria to isolate the characteristic size-distribution of aged biomass-burning emissions (aged ~ 1.5 – 2 days) from boreal wildfires in Northwestern Ontario. The composite median size-distribution yields a single dominant accumulation mode with Dpm = 232 nm, σ = 1.7, which are comparable to literature values of other aged plumes of a similar type. The organic aerosol enhancement ratios (ΔOA/ΔCO) along the path of Flight b622 show values of 0.08-0.18 μg m-3 ppbv-1 with no significant trend with distance from the source. This lack of enhancement ratio increase/decrease with distance suggests no detectable net OA production/evaporation within the aged plume over the sampling period.
A Lagrangian microphysical model was used to determine an estimate of the freshly emitted size distribution and flux corresponding to the BORTAS-B aged size-distributions. The model was restricted to coagulation and dilution processes only based on the insignificant net OA production/evaporation derived from the ΔOA/ΔCO enhancement ratios. Depending on the, we estimate that the fresh-plume median diameter was in the range of 59-94 nm with modal widths in the range of 1.7-2.8. Thus, the size of the freshly emitted particles is somewhat unconstrained due to the uncertainties in the plume dilution rates.