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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
01 Feb 2012
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
A new algorithm for brown and black carbon identification and organic carbon detection in fine atmospheric aerosols by a multi-wavelength Aethalometer
F. Esposito1, M. R. Calvello2, E. Gueguen2, and G. Pavese2 1CNISM − Unità di ricerca di Potenza, Università della Basilicata, Viale dell'Ateneo Lucano no. 10, 85100 Potenza, Italy
2Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche-Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale (CNR-IMAA), C. da S. Loja, 85050 Tito Scalo, Potenza, Italy
Abstract. A novel approach for the analysis of aerosol absorption coefficient measurements is presented. A 7-wavelenghts aethalometer has been employed to identify brown carbon (BrC) and black carbon (BC) and to detect organic carbon (OC) in fine atmospheric aerosols (PM2.5). The Magee Aethalometer estimates the BC content in atmospheric particulate by measuring the light attenuation in the aerosols accumulated on a quartz filter, at the standard wavelength λ = 0.88 μm. The known Magee algorithm is based on the hypothesis of a mass absorption coefficient inversely proportional to the wavelength. The new algorithm has been developed and applied to the whole spectral range; it verifies the spectral absorption behavior and, thus, it distinguishes between black and brown carbon. Moreover, it allows also to correct the absorption estimation at the UV wavelength commonly used to qualitatively detect the presence of mixed hydrocarbons. The algorithm has been applied to data collected in Agri Valley, located in Southern Italy, where torched crude oil undergoes a pre-treatment process.

The Magee Aethalometer has been set to measure Aerosol absorption coefficients τaer (λ, t) every 5 min. Wavelength dependence of τaer (λ, t) has been analyzed by a best-fit technique and, excluding UV-wavelengths, both the absorption Angstrom coefficient α and the BC (or BrC) concentration have been determined. Finally, daily histograms of α provide information on optical properties of carbonaceous aerosol, while the extrapolation at UV-wavelengths gives information on the presence of semivolatile organic carbon (OC) particles.

Citation: Esposito, F., Calvello, M. R., Gueguen, E., and Pavese, G.: A new algorithm for brown and black carbon identification and organic carbon detection in fine atmospheric aerosols by a multi-wavelength Aethalometer, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss., 5, 1003-1027, doi:10.5194/amtd-5-1003-2012, 2012.
F. Esposito et al.
F. Esposito et al.


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