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Journal Articles Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Year : 2022

Light absorption by brown carbon over the South-East Atlantic Ocean

Lu Zhang
  • Function : Author
Michal Segal-Rozenhaimer
  • Function : Author
Haochi Che
  • Function : Author
Caroline Dang
  • Function : Author
Arthur J. Sedlacek
  • Function : Author
Ernie R. Lewis
  • Function : Author
Amie Dobracki
  • Function : Author
Jenny P. S. Wong
  • Function : Author
Steven G. Howell
  • Function : Author
Athanasios Nenes
  • Function : Author


Biomass burning emissions often contain brown carbon (BrC), which represents a large family of light-absorbing organics that are chemically complex, thus making it difficult to estimate their absorption of incoming solar radiation, resulting in large uncertainties in the estimation of the global direct radiative effect of aerosols. Here we investigate the contribution of BrC to the total light absorption of biomass burning aerosols over the South-East Atlantic Ocean with different optical models, utilizing a suite of airborne measurements from the ORACLES 2018 campaign. An effective refractive index of black carbon (BC), meBC=1.95+ikeBC, that characterizes the absorptivity of all absorbing components at 660 nm wavelength was introduced to facilitate the attribution of absorption at shorter wavelengths, i.e. 470 nm. Most values of the imaginary part of the effective refractive index, keBC, were larger than those commonly used for BC from biomass burning emissions, suggesting contributions from absorbers besides BC at 660 nm. The TEM-EDX single-particle analysis further suggests that these long-wavelength absorbers might include iron oxides, as iron is found to be present only when large values of keBC are derived. Using this effective BC refractive index, we find that the contribution of BrC to the total absorption at 470 nm (RBrC,470) ranges from ∼8 %-22 %, with the organic aerosol mass absorption coefficient (MACOA,470) at this wavelength ranging from 0.30±0.27 to 0.68±0.08 m2 g-1. The core-shell model yielded much higher estimates of MACOA,470 and RBrC,470 than homogeneous mixing models, underscoring the importance of model treatment. Absorption attribution using the Bruggeman mixing Mie model suggests a minor BrC contribution of 4 % at 530 nm, while its removal would triple the BrC contribution to the total absorption at 470 nm obtained using the AAE (absorption Ångström exponent) attribution method. Thus, it is recommended that the application of any optical properties-based attribution method use absorption coefficients at the longest possible wavelength to minimize the influence of BrC and to account for potential contributions from other absorbing materials.
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insu-03749602 , version 1 (11-08-2022)




Lu Zhang, Michal Segal-Rozenhaimer, Haochi Che, Caroline Dang, Arthur J. Sedlacek, et al.. Light absorption by brown carbon over the South-East Atlantic Ocean. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2022, 22, pp.9199-9213. ⟨10.5194/acp-22-9199-2022⟩. ⟨insu-03749602⟩
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