Light absorption of brown carbon in eastern China based on 3-year multi-wavelength aerosol optical property observations and an improved absorption Ångström exponent segregation method

Wang, Jiaping; Nie, Wei; Cheng, Yafang; Shen, Yicheng; Chi, Xuguang; Wang, Jiandong; Huang, Xin; Xie, Yuning; Sun, Peng; Xu, Zheng; Qi, Ximeng; Su, Hang; Ding, Aijun

Brown carbon (BrC), a certain group of organic carbon (OC) with strong absorption from the visible (VIS) to ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths, makes a considerable contribution to light absorption on both global and regional scales. A high concentration and proportion of OC has been reported in China, but studies of BrC absorption based on long-term observations are rather limited in this region. In this study, we reported 3-year results of light absorption of BrC based on continuous measurement at the Station for Observing Regional Processes of the Earth System (SORPES) in the Yangtze River Delta, China, combined with Mie theory calculation. Light absorption of BrC was obtained using an improved absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) segregation method. The AAE of non-absorbing coated black carbon (BC) at each time step is calculated based on Mie theory simulation, together with single particle soot photometer (SP2) and aethalometer observations. By using this improved method, the variation of the AAE over time is taken into consideration, making it applicable for long-term analysis. The annual average light absorption coefficient of BrC (inline-formulababs_BrC) at 370 nm was 6.3 Mminline-formula−1 at the SORPES station. The contribution of BrC to total aerosol absorption (inline-formulaPBrC) at 370 nm ranged from 10.4 to 23.9 % (10th and 90th percentiles, respectively), and reached up to inline-formula∼ 33 % in the open-biomass-burning-dominant season and winter. Both inline-formulababs_BrC and inline-formulaPBrC exhibited clear seasonal cycles with two peaks in later spring/early summer (May–June, inline-formulababs_BrCinline-formula∼ 6 Mminline-formula−1, inline-formulaPBrCinline-formula∼ 17 %) and winter (December, inline-formulababs_BrCinline-formula∼ 15 Mminline-formula−1, inline-formulaPBrCinline-formula∼ 22 %), respectively. Lagrangian modeling and the chemical signature observed at the site suggested that open biomass burning and residential coal/biofuel burning were the dominant sources influencing BrC in the two seasons, respectively.

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Wang, Jiaping / Nie, Wei / Cheng, Yafang / et al: Light absorption of brown carbon in eastern China based on 3-year multi-wavelength aerosol optical property observations and an improved absorption Ångström exponent segregation method. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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