Characteristics and evolution of brown carbon in western United States wildfires

Zeng, L., J. Dibb, E. Scheuer, J. Katich, J. Schwarz, I. Bourgeois, J. Peischl, T. B. Ryerson, C. Warneke, A. Perring, G. S. Diskin, J. P. DiGangi, J. B. Nowak, R. H. Moore, L. Wiggins, D. Pagonis, H. Guo, P. Campuzano-Jost, J. L. Jimenez, L. Xu, and R. Weber (2022), Characteristics and evolution of brown carbon in western United States wildfires, Atmos. Chem. Phys., doi:10.5194/acp-22-8009-2022.

Brown carbon (BrC) associated with aerosol particles in western United States wildfires was measured between July and August 2019 aboard the NASA DC-8 research aircraft during the Fire Influence on Regional to Global Environments and Air Quality (FIREX-AQ) study. Two BrC measurement methods are investigated, highly spectrally resolved light absorption in solvent (water and methanol) extracts of particles collected on filters and in situ bulk aerosol particle light absorption measured at three wavelengths (405, 532 and 664 nm) with a photoacoustic spectrometer (PAS). A light-absorption closure analysis for wavelengths between 300 and 700 nm was performed. The combined light absorption of particle pure black carbon material, including enhancements due to internally mixed materials, plus soluble BrC and a Mie-predicted factor for conversion of soluble BrC to aerosol particle BrC, was compared to absorption spectra from a power law fit to the three PAS wavelengths. For the various parameters used, at a wavelength of roughly 400 nm they agreed, at lower wavelengths the individual component-predicted particle light absorption significantly exceeded the PAS and at higher wavelengths the PAS absorption was consistently higher but more variable. Limitations with extrapolation of PAS data to wavelengths below 405 nm and missing BrC species of low solubility that more strongly absorb at higher wavelengths may account for the differences. Based on measurements closest to fires, the emission ratio of PAS-measured BrC at 405 nm relative to carbon monoxide (CO) was on average 0.13 Mm−1 ppbv−1 ; emission ratios for soluble BrC are also provided. As the smoke moved away from the burning regions, the evolution over time of BrC was observed to be highly complex; BrC enhancement, depletion or constant levels with age were

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Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)