Systematic Relationships among Background SE U.S. Aerosol Optical, Micro-physical, and Chemical Properties-Development of an Optically-based Aerosol Characterization

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
James P Sherman, Michael Frank Link and Yong Zhou, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, United States
Remote sensing-based retrievals of aerosol composition require known or assumed relationships between aerosol optical properties and types. Most optically-based aerosol classification schemes apply some combination of the spectral dependence of aerosol light scattering and absorption-using the absorption and either scattering or extinction Angstrom exponents (AAE, SAE and EAE), along with single-scattering albedo (SSA). These schemes can differentiate between such aerosol types as dust, biomass burning, and urban/industrial but no such studies have been conducted in the SE U.S., where a large fraction of the background aerosol is a variable mixture of biogenic SOA, sulfates, and black carbon. In addition, AERONET retrievals of SSA are often highly uncertain due to low AOD in the region during most months.

The high-elevation, semi-rural AppalAIR facility at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC (1090m ASL, 36.210N, 81.690W) is home to the only co-located NOAA-ESRL and AERONET monitoring sites in the eastern U.S. Aerosol chemistry measured at AppalAIR is representative of the background SE U.S (Link et al. 2014) Dried aerosol light absorption and dried and humidified aerosol light scattering and hemispheric backscattering at 3 visible wavelengths and 2 particle size cuts (sub-1µm and sub-10µm) are measured continuously. Measurements of size-resolved, non-refractory sub-1µm aerosol composition were made by a co-located AMS during the 2012-2013 summers and 2013 winter. Systematic relationships among aerosol optical, microphysical, and chemical properties were developed to better understand aerosol sources and processes and for use in higher-dimension aerosol classification schemes. The hygroscopic dependence of visible light scattering is sensitive to the ratio of sulfate to organic aerosol(OA), as are SSA and AAE. SAE is a less sensitive indicator of fine-mode aerosol size than hemispheric backscatter fraction (b) and is more sensitive to fine-mode aerosol fraction. SSA, b, and AAE are also sensitive to changes in scattering coefficient (σsp)-a proxy for aerosol loading. AAE values well below 1 are consistent with enhanced absorption due to BC cores coated with sulfate and OA. Initial results from an aerosol classification scheme based on systematic relationships are also presented.