Linking aerosol size and optical properties to trace gases emitted from biomass burning in real-time
Friday, 19 December 2014
Biomass burning aerosols have large impacts on regional and global climate that are partly determined by their optical properties. The optical properties of aerosol depend on their size and composition, which in turn are related to fire combustion processes. Here we investigate relationships between a large suite of trace gases and aerosol size and optical properties to better understand processes governing the optical properties of fresh biomass burning aerosol emissions. We examined over 100 individual burns of biomass fuels during the Fire Laboratory at Missoula Experiment 4 (FLAME 4). Emissions were measured directly from an exhaust stack designed to capture all emissions from relatively small-scale fires burned at the base of a large burn chamber. Trace gas species were measured using a combination of an open-path Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (OP-FTIR) and proton-transfer mass spectrometer (PTR-MS). Aerosol optical properties at 870 nm were measured using a photoacoustic extinctiometer (PAX) and particle size distributions were measured using a Fast Mobility Particle Sizer (FMPS) and Aerodynamic Particle Sizer. The rapid response of the instruments allowed for comparisons of the emissions and particle properties over the duration of the fire. For example, we observed correlations between aerosol absorption, particle size, and gas-phase species associated with different types of combustion such as flaming and smoldering. We also report fire-integrated emissions for aerosol absorption and scattering coefficients and compare these to other fire-integrated properties. Many of our burn experiments examined a number of fuels that had not before been characterized in laboratory conditions, including a number of peat fuels, African savanna grasses and crop residuals.