147 research outputs found

    Black-carbon absorption enhancement in the atmosphere determined by particle mixing state

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    Atmospheric black carbon makes an important but poorly quantified contribution to the warming of the global atmosphere. Laboratory and modelling studies have shown that the addition of non-black-carbon materials to black-carbon particles may enhance the particles’ light absorption by 50 to 60% by refracting and reflecting light. Real-world experimental evidence for this ‘lensing’ effect is scant and conflicting, showing that absorption enhancements can be less than 5% or as large as 140%. Here we present simultaneous quantifications of the composition and optical properties of individual atmospheric black-carbon particles. We show that particles with a mass ratio of non-black carbon to black carbon of less than 1.5, which is typical of fresh traffic sources, are best represented as having no absorption enhancement. In contrast, black-carbon particles with a ratio greater than 3, which is typical of biomass-burning emissions, are best described assuming optical lensing leading to an absorption enhancement. We introduce a generalized hybrid model approach for estimating scattering and absorption enhancements based on laboratory and atmospheric observations. We conclude that the occurrence of the absorption enhancement of black-carbon particles is determined by the particles’ mass ratio of non-black carbon to black carbon

    Unified theoretical framework for mixing state of black carbon

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    Black carbon (BC) plays an important role in the climate system due to its strongwarming effect, yet the magnitude of this effect is highly uncertain due to the complex mixingstate of aerosols. Here we build a unified theoretical framework to describe BC’s mixing states,linking dynamic processes to BC coating thickness distribution, and show its self-similarity for sites in diverse environments. The size distribution of BC-containing particles is found to followan exponential pattern and is independent of BC core size. A mixing state module is establishedbased on this finding and successfully applied in global and regional models, which increases theaccuracy of aerosol climate effect estimations. Our theoretical framework can bridge the gap be-tween observation and model simulation in both mixing state description and light absorption quantification<br

    Evaluation of Black Carbon Estimations in Global Aerosol Models

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    We evaluate black carbon (BC) model predictions from the AeroCom model intercomparison project by considering the diversity among year 2000 model simulations and comparing model predictions with available measurements. These 5 model-measurement intercomparisons include BC surface and aircraft concentrations, aerosol absorption optical depth (AAOD) from AERONET and Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) retrievals and BC column estimations based on AERONET. In regions other than Asia, most models are biased high compared to surface concentration measurements. However compared with (column) AAOD or BC burden retreivals, the models 10 are generally biased low. The average ratio of model to retrieved AAOD is less than 0.7 in South American and 0.6 in African biomass burning regions; both of these regions lack surface concentration measurements. In Asia the average model to observed ratio is 0.6 for AAOD and 0.5 for BC surface concentrations. Compared with aircraft measurements over the Americas at latitudes between 0 and 50 N, the average model is a 15 factor of 10 larger than observed, and most models exceed the measured BC standard deviation in the mid to upper troposphere. At higher latitudes the average model to aircraft BC is 0.6 and underestimates the observed BC loading in the lower and middle troposphere associated with springtime Arctic haze. Low model bias for AAOD but overestimation of surface and upper atmospheric BC concentrations at lower latitudes 20 suggests that most models are underestimating BC absorption and should improve estimates for refractive index, particle size, and optical effects of BC coating. Retrieval uncertainties and/or differences with model diagnostic treatment may also contribute to the model-measurement disparity. Largest AeroCom model diversity occurred in northern Eurasia and the remote Arctic, regions influenced by anthropogenic sources. 25 Changing emissions, aging, removal, or optical properties within a single model generated a smaller change in model predictions than the range represented by the full set of AeroCom models. Upper tropospheric concentrations of BC mass from the aircraft measurements are suggested to provide a unique new benchmark to test scavenging and vertical dispersion of BC in global models.JRC.H.2-Climate chang