Hygroscopic Measurements of Aerosol Particles in Colorado during the Discover AQ Campaign 2014
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
In ambient conditions, aerosol particles experience hygroscopic growth due to the influence of relative humidity (RH), scattering more light than when the particles are dry. The quantitative knowledge of the RH effect and its influence on the light scattering and, in particular, on the phase function and polarization of aerosol particles is of substantial importance when comparing ground observations with other optical aerosol measurements such satellite and sunphotometric retrievals of aerosol optical depth and their inversions. In the summer of 2014, the DISCOVER-AQ campaign was held in Colorado, where systematic and concurrent observations of column- integrated surface, and vertically‐resolved distributions of aerosols and trace gases relevant to air quality and their evolution during the day were observed. Aerosol optical properties were measured in the UMBC trailer at the city of Golden using a TSI-3563 nephelometer and an in-situ Polarized Imaging Nephelometer (PI-NEPH) designed and built by the LACO group at UMBC. The PI-NEPH measures aerosol phase matrix components in high angular range between 2 and 178 degrees scattering angle at three wavelengths (λ=473, 532 and 671nm). The two measured elements of the phase matrix, intensity (P11) and linear polarization (P12) provide extensive characterization of the scattering properties of the studied aerosol. The scattering coefficient, P11 and P12 were measured under different humidity conditions to obtain the enhancement factor f(RH) and the dependence of P11 and P12 to RH using a humidifier dryer system covering a RH range from 20 to 90%. The ratio between scattering coefficients at high and low humidity in Golden Colorado showed relatively low hygroscopic growth in the aerosol particles f(RH=80%) was 1.27±0.19 for the first three weeks of sampling. According to speciated measurements performed at the UMBC trailer, the predominance of dust and organic aerosols over more hygroscopic nitrate and sulfate in the region are responsible for the low hygroscopicity. In addition, transported smoke remnants from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest were detected as the elemental and organic carbon concentrations increased. The P11 and P12 elements from smoke and local sources are discussed as well as the vertical distribution by airborne and ground comparisons.