Inferring brown carbon content from UV aerosol absorption measurements during biomass burning season
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Measuring spectral dependence of light absorption by colored organic or “brown” carbon (BrC) is important, because of its effects on photolysis rates of ozone and surface ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Enhanced UV spectral absorption by BrC can in turn be exploited for simultaneous retrievals of BrC and black carbon (BC) column amounts in field campaigns. We present an innovative ground-based retrieval of BC and BrC volume fractions and their mass absorption efficiencies during the biomass burning season in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in September-October 2007. Our method combines retrieval of BC volume fraction using AERONET inversion in visible wavelengths with the inversion of total BC+BrC absorption (i.e., column effective imaginary refractive index, kmeas) using Diffuse/Direct irradiance measurements in UV wavelengths. First, we retrieve BrC volume fraction by fitting kmeas at 368nm using Maxwell-Garnett (MG) mixing rules assuming: (1) flat spectral dependence of kBC, (2) known value of kBrC at 368nm from laboratory absorption measurements or smoke chamber experiments, and (3) known BC volume fraction from AERONET inversion. Next, we derive kBrC in short UVB wavelengths by fitting kmeas at 305nm, 311nm, 317nm, 325nm, and 332nm using MG mixing rules and fixed volume fractions of BC and BrC. Our retrievals show larger than expected spectral dependence of kBrC in UVB wavelengths, implying reduced surface UVB irradiance and inhibited photolysis rates of surface ozone destruction. We use a one-dimensional chemical box model to show that the observed strong wavelength dependence of BrC absorption leads to inhibited photolysis of ozone to O(1D), a loss mechanism, while having little impact or even accelerating photolysis of NO2, an ozone production mechanism. Although BC only absorption in biomass burning aerosols is important for climate radiative forcing in the visible wavelengths, additional absorption by BrC is important because of its impact on surface UVB radiation affecting human health, ecosystem, photochemistry, and air quality.