Observations of OM/OC and specific attenuation coefficients (SAC) in ambient fine PM at a rural site in central Ontario, Canada
Ambient particulate matter (PM) samples were collected on quartz filters at a rural site in central Ontario during an intensive study in 2007. The concentrations of organic carbon (OC), pyrolysis organic carbon (POC), and elemental carbon (EC) were determined by thermal analysis. The concentrations are compared to the organic aerosol mass concentration (OM) measured with an Aerodyne C-ToF Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) and to the particle absorption coefficient (b(asp)) obtained from a Radiance Research Particle Soot Absorption Photometer (PSAP). The total organic mass to organic carbon ratios (OM/OC) and specific attenuation coefficients (SAC=b(asp)/EC) are derived. Proportionality of the POC mass with the oxygen mass in the aerosols estimated from the AMS offers a potential means to estimate OM/OC from thermal measurements only. The mean SAC for the study is 3.8 +/- 0.3 m(2) g(-1). It is found that the SAC is independent of or decrease with increasing particle mass loading, depending on whether or not the data are separated between aerosols dominated by more recent anthropogenic input and aerosols dominated by longer residence time or biogenic components. There is no evidence to support an enhancement of light absorption by the condensation of secondary material to particles, suggesting that present model simulations built on such an assumption may overestimate atmospheric warming by BC.