Evaluating biases in filter-based aerosol absorption measurements using photoacoustic spectroscopy
Biases in absorption coefficients measured using a filter-based absorption photometer (Tricolor Absorption Photometer, or TAP) at wavelengths of 467, 528 and 652 nm are evaluated by comparing to measurements made using photoacoustic spectroscopy (PAS). We report comparisons for ambient sampling covering a range of aerosol types including urban, fresh biomass burning and aged biomass burning. Data are also used to evaluate the performance of three different TAP correction schemes. We found that photoacoustic and filter-based measurements were well correlated, but filter-based measurements generally overestimated absorption by up to 45 %. Biases varied with wavelength and depended on the correction scheme applied. Optimal agreement to PAS data was achieved by processing the filter-based measurements using the recently developed correction scheme of Müller et al. (2014), which consistently reduced biases to 0 %–18 % at all wavelengths. The biases were found to be a function of the ratio of organic aerosol mass to light-absorbing carbon mass, although applying the Müller et al. (2014) correction scheme to filter-based absorption measurements reduced the biases and the strength of this correlation significantly. Filter-based absorption measurement biases led to aerosol single-scattering albedos that were biased low by values in the range 0.00–0.07 and absorption Ångström exponents (AAEs) that were in error by ± (0.03–0.54). The discrepancy between the filter-based and PAS absorption measurements is lower than reported in some earlier studies and points to a strong dependence of filter-based measurement accuracy on aerosol source type.