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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-303
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-303
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 06 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 06 Sep 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Development of an improved two-sphere integration technique for quantifying black carbon concentrations in the atmosphere and seasonal snow

Xin Wang1,2 and Xueying Zhang3 Xin Wang and Xueying Zhang
  • 1Key Laboratory for Semi-Arid Climate Change of the Ministry of Education, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, Gansu, China
  • 2Institute of Surface-Earth System Science, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072
  • 3Jilin Weather Modification Office, Changchun 132000, Jilin, China

Abstract. An improved two-sphere integration (TSI) technique has been developed to quantify black carbon (BC) concentrations in the atmosphere and seasonal snow. The major advantage of this system is that it combines two distinct spheres to reduce the scattering effect due to light-absorbing particles, and thus provides accurate determinations of total light absorption from BC collected on Nuclepore filters. The TSI technique can be calibrated using a series of 15 filter samples of standard fullerene soot. This technique quantifies the mass of BC by separating the spectrally resolved total light absorption into BC and non-BC fractions. To assess the accuracy of the improved system, an empirical procedure for measuring BC concentrations by a two-step thermal–optical method is also applied. Laboratory results indicate that BC concentrations determined using the TSI technique and theoretical calculations are well correlated, whereas the thermal–optical method underestimates BC concentrations by 35 %–45 %. Assessments of the two methods for atmospheric and snow samples revealed excellent agreement, with least-squares regression lines with slopes of 1.72 (r2 = 0.67) and 0.84 (r2 = 0.93), respectively. However, the TSI technique is more accurate in quantifications of BC concentrations in both the atmosphere and seasonal snow, with an overall lower uncertainty. Using the improved TSI technique, we find that light absorption due to BC plays a dominant role, relative to non-BC light absorption, in both the atmosphere (68.5 %–95.9 % of total light absorption) and seasonal snow (52.3 %–93.3 %) over northern China.

Xin Wang and Xueying Zhang
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Xin Wang and Xueying Zhang
Xin Wang and Xueying Zhang
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Short summary
We developed an improved two-sphere integration (TSI) technique to quantify black carbon (BC) concentrations in the atmosphere and seasonal snow. The major advantage of this system is that it combines two distinct spheres to reduce the scattering effect due to light-absorbing particles, and thus provides accurate determinations of total light absorption from BC collected on Nuclepore filters.
We developed an improved two-sphere integration (TSI) technique to quantify black carbon (BC)...
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