Effects of black carbon morphology on brown carbon absorption estimation: from numerical aspects

Luo, Jie; Zhang, Yongming; Zhang, Qixing

In this work, we developed a numerical method to investigate the effects of black carbon (BC) morphology on the estimation of brown carbon (BrC) absorption using the absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) methods. Pseudo measurements of the total absorption were generated based on several morphologically mixed BC models, then the BrC absorption was inferred based on different BC AAE methods. By investigating the estimated BrC absorption at different parameters, we have demonstrated under what conditions the AAE methods can provide good or bad estimations. As recent studies have shown that both externally and internally mixed BC still exhibits a relatively small fractal dimension value, the AAE inline-formula= 1 method is still a reasonable method to estimate the BrC absorption as the AAE of fluffy BC does not deviate significantly from 1. However, the deviation between the “true” and the estimated BrC mass absorption cross section (MAC) should also be carefully considered as sometimes the MAC deviation estimated using the AAE inline-formula= 1 method can reach a value that is comparable to the true BrC MAC for internally mixed particles. The Mie AAE method can just provide relatively reasonable estimations for small particles, and the BrC absorption deviations estimated using the Mie AAE methods are rather substantial for large particles. If the BC core still exhibits a fluffy structure, the deviation between the true and the estimated BrC MAC can reach 4.8 and 5.8 minline-formula2/g for large externally and internally mixed particles, respectively. Even for a compact BC core, the BrC MAC deviation estimated using the Mie AAE method can reach approximately 2.8 minline-formula2/g when the BC size is large. By comparing the AAE of spherical BC and detailed BC models, we found that the AAE does not deviate significantly from 1 if BC presents a fluffy fractal structure, while it varies considerably with particle size if BC exhibits a spherical structure, and the AAE value of spherical BC can vary from a negative value to approximately 1.4. The precalculated wavelength dependence of AAE (WDA) method does not necessarily improve the estimations. In many cases, the WDA method even provides a worse estimation than the BC AAE inline-formula=1 and Mie AAE methods. Our results showed that the WDA does not deviate significantly from 0 if the BC core presents a fluffy structure, while the WDA of spherical BC can vary significantly as the particle size changes. The deviation between the true and the estimated BrC MAC using the WDA method can reach approximately 9 minline-formula2/g for externally mixed particles, which is far more than BrC MAC itself. As recent studies have shown that BC commonly exhibits a fluffy structure but not a spherical structure, the estimation of BrC absorption based on the AAE method should carefully consider the effects of BC morphologies.

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Luo, Jie / Zhang, Yongming / Zhang, Qixing: Effects of black carbon morphology on brown carbon absorption estimation: from numerical aspects. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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