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Aerosol Science and Technology

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Aerosols --Optical properties, Light absorption -- Measurement -- Technological innovations


The Reno Aerosol Optics Study (RAOS) was designed and conducted to compare the performance of many existing and new instruments for the in situ measurement of aerosol optical properties with a focus on the determination of aerosol light absorption. For this study, simple test aerosols of black and white particles were generated and combined in external mixtures under low relative humidity conditions and delivered to each measurement system. The aerosol mixing and delivery system was constantly monitored using particle counters and nephelometers to ensure that the same aerosol number concentration and amount reached the different instruments. The aerosol light-scattering measurements of four different nephelometers were compared, while the measurements of seven light-absorption instruments (5 filter based, 2 photoacoustic) were evaluated. Four methods for determining the aerosol light-extinction coefficient (3 cavity ring-down instruments and 1 folded-path optical extinction cell) were also included in the comparisons. An emphasis was placed on determining the representativeness of the filter-based light absorption methods, since these are used widely and because major corrections to the raw attenuation measurements are known to be required. The extinction measurement from the optical extinction cell was compared with the scattering measurement from a high-sensitivity integrating nephelometer on fine, nonabsorbing ammonium sulfate aerosols, and the two were found to agree closely (within 1%for blue and green wavelengths and 2%for red). The wavelength dependence of light absorption for small kerosene and diesel soot particles was found to be very nearλ - 1 , the theoretical small-particle limit. Larger, irregularly shaped graphite particles showed widely variable wavelength dependencies over several graphite runs. The light-absorption efficiency at a wavelength of 530 nm for pure kerosene soot with a number size distribution peak near 0.3μm diameter was found to be 7.5±1.2 m 2 g - 1 . The two most fundamental independent absorption methods used in this study were photoacoustic absorption and the difference between suspended-state light extinction and scattering, and these showed excellent agreement (typically within a few percent) on mixed black/white aerosols, with the photoacoustic measurement generally slightly lower. Excellent agreement was also observed between some filter-based light-absorption measurements and the RAOS reference absorption method. For atmospherically relevant levels of the aerosol light-absorption coefficient (< 25 Mm − 1 ), the particle soot absorption photometer (PSAP) absorption measurement at mid-visible wavelengths agreed with the reference absorption measurement to within∼⃒11%for experiment tests on externally mixed kerosene soot and ammonium sulfate. At higher absorption levels (characterized by lower single-scattering albedo aerosol tests), this agreement worsened considerably, most likely due to an inadequate filter loading correction used for the PSAP. The PSAP manufacturer's filter loading correction appears to do an adequate job of correcting the PSAP absorption measurement at aerosol single-scattering albedos above 0.80–0.85, which representsmost atmospheric aerosols, but it does a progressively worse job at lower single-scattering albedos. A new filter-based light-absorption photometer was also evaluated in RAOS, the multiangle absorption photometer (MAAP), which uses a two-stream radiative transfer model to determine the filter and aerosol scattering effects for a better calculation of the absorption coefficient. The MAAP absorption measurements agreed with the reference absorption measurements closely (linear regression slope of ~0.99) for all experimental tests on externally mixed kerosene soot and ammonium sulfate.


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