Journal article

Brown carbon absorption linked to organic mass tracers in biomass burning particles

Lack D, Bahreini R, Langridge J, Gilman J, Middlebrook A ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 13, issue 5 (2013) pp. 2415-2422

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Traditional gas and particle phase chemical markers used to identify the presence of biomass burning (BB) emissions were measured for a large forest fire near Boulder, Colorado. Correlation of the organic matter mass spectroscopic m/z 60 with measured particle light absorption properties found no link at 532 nm, and a strong correlation at 404 nm. Non-black carbon absorption at 404 nm was well correlated to the ratio of the mass fractions of particulate organic matter (POM) that was m/z 60 (f(60)) to m/z 44 (f(44)). The f(60) to f(44) ratio did not fully explain the variability in non-BC absorption, due to contributions of brown carbon (BrC) absorption and absorption due to internal mixing of POM with black carbon (BC). The absorption Angstrom exponent (A(Abs)) showed a good correlation to f(60)/f(44); however the best correlation resulted from the mass absorption efficiency (MAE) of BrC at 404 nm (MAE(POM-404) (nm)) and f(60)/f(44). This result indicates that the absorption of POM at low visible and UV wavelengths is linked to emissions of organic matter that contribute to the m/z 60 mass fragment, although they do not contribute to 532 nm absorption. m/z 60 is often attributed to levoglucosan and related compounds. The linear relationship between MAE(POM-404) (nm) and f(60)/f(44) suggests that the strength of BrC absorption for this fire can be predicted by emissions of f(60)-related organic matter.

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