Mixing state of refractory black carbon aerosol in the South Asian outflow over the northern Indian Ocean during winter

Kompalli, Sobhan Kumar; Babu, Surendran Nair Suresh; Moorthy, Krishnaswamy Krishna; Satheesh, Sreedharan Krishnakumari; Gogoi, Mukunda Madhab; Nair, Vijayakumar S.; Jayachandran, Venugopalan Nair; Liu, Dantong; Flynn, Michael J.; Coe, Hugh

Regional climatic implications of aerosol black carbon (BC), which has a wide variety of anthropogenic sources in large abundance, are well recognized over South Asia. Significant uncertainties remain in its quantification due to a lack of sufficient information on the microphysical properties (its concentration, size, and mixing state with other aerosol components) that determine the absorption potential of BC. In particular, the information on the mixing state of BC is extremely sparse over this region. In this study, the first observations of the size distribution and mixing state of individual refractory black carbon (rBC) particles in the South Asian outflow to the south-eastern Arabian Sea and the northern and equatorial Indian Ocean regions are presented based on measurements using a single particle soot photometer (SP2) aboard the Integrated Campaign for Aerosols, gases, and Radiation Budget (ICARB-2018) ship during winter 2018 (16 January to 13 February). The results revealed significant spatial heterogeneity of BC characteristics. The highest rBC mass concentrations (inline-formula M1inlinescrollmathml normal 938 ± normal 293 60pt10ptsvg-formulamathimg65082458352bab19b395cc50a04c0f4b acp-21-9173-2021-ie00001.svg60pt10ptacp-21-9173-2021-ie00001.png inline-formulang m−3) with the highest relative coating thickness (RCT; the ratio of BC core to its coating diameters) of inline-formula M3inlinescrollmathml normal 2.16 ± normal 0.19 66pt10ptsvg-formulamathimg6d228cc009e94afbde272f872b852748 acp-21-9173-2021-ie00002.svg66pt10ptacp-21-9173-2021-ie00002.png are found over the south-east Arabian Sea (SEAS) region, which is in the proximity of the continental outflow. As we move to farther oceanic regions, though the mass concentrations decreased by nearly half (inline-formula M4inlinescrollmathml normal 546 ± normal 80 54pt10ptsvg-formulamathimgebcf23b1e8d538f0f8b8d2ef8feeb8d3 acp-21-9173-2021-ie00003.svg54pt10ptacp-21-9173-2021-ie00003.png inline-formulang m−3), BC still remained thickly coated (inline-formula M6inlinescrollmathml RCT normal 2.05 ± normal 0.07 91pt11ptsvg-formulamathimgc6d23df909aa4ba0faf3c26ba0a09e58 acp-21-9173-2021-ie00004.svg91pt11ptacp-21-9173-2021-ie00004.png ). The air over the remote equatorial Indian Ocean, which received considerable marine air masses compared to the other regions, showed the lowest rBC mass concentrations (inline-formula M7inlinescrollmathml normal 206 ± normal 114 60pt10ptsvg-formulamathimg11f974befbcdd2760b99c747ef8f1259 acp-21-9173-2021-ie00005.svg60pt10ptacp-21-9173-2021-ie00005.png inline-formulang m−3) with a moderately thick coating (inline-formula M9inlinescrollmathml RCT normal 1.73 ± normal 0.16 91pt11ptsvg-formulamathimgb4326f1e18eaac2fe801e25fd85d7890 acp-21-9173-2021-ie00006.svg91pt11ptacp-21-9173-2021-ie00006.png ). Even over oceanic regions far from the landmass, regions that received the outflow from the more industrialized east coast/the Bay of Bengal had a thicker coating (inline-formula∼104 nm) compared to regions that received outflow from the west coast and/or peninsular India (inline-formula∼86 nm). Although different regions of the ocean depicted contrasting concentrations and mixing state parameters due to the varied extent and nature of the continental outflow as well as the atmospheric lifetime of air masses, the modal parameters of rBC mass–size distributions (mean mass median diameters inline-formula∼ 0.19–0.20 inline-formulaµm) were similar over all regions. The mean fraction of BC-containing particles (inline-formulaFBC) varied in the range of 0.08–0.12 (suggesting significant amounts of non-BC particles), whereas the bulk mixing ratio of coating mass to rBC mass was highest (inline-formula8.31±2.40) over the outflow regions compared to the remote ocean (inline-formula4.24±1.45), highlighting the role of outflow in providing condensable material for coatings on rBC. These parameters, along with the information on the size-resolved mixing state of BC cores, throw light on the role of sources and secondary processing of their complex mixturespage9174 for coatings on BC under highly polluted conditions. Examination of the non-refractory sub-micrometre aerosol chemical composition obtained using the aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM) suggested that the overall aerosol system was sulfate-dominated over the far-oceanic regions. In contrast, organics were equally prominent adjacent to the coastal landmass. An association between the BC mixing state and aerosol chemical composition suggested that sulfate was the probable dominant coating material on rBC cores.

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Kompalli, Sobhan Kumar / Babu, Surendran Nair Suresh / Moorthy, Krishnaswamy Krishna / et al: Mixing state of refractory black carbon aerosol in the South Asian outflow over the northern Indian Ocean during winter. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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