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Comparison of Filter-based Absorption Measurements of Biomass Burning Aerosol and Background Aerosol at the Mt. Bachelor Observatory

Category: Special Session: Optical Properties of Atmospheric Aerosol

Volume: 20 | Issue: 4 | Pages: 663-678
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.06.0298
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To cite this article:
Laing, J.R., Jaffe, D.A. and Sedlacek, III, A.J. (2020). Comparison of Filter-based Absorption Measurements of Biomass Burning Aerosol and Background Aerosol at the Mt. Bachelor Observatory. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 663-678. doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.06.0298.

James R. Laing1, Daniel A. Jaffe 1,2, Arthur J. Sedlacek, III3

  • 1 University of Washington Bothell, Bothell, WA 98011, USA
  • 2 University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
  • 3 Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA


  • We compared multiple absorption instruments and correction schemes.
  • Equivalent black carbon from the aethelometer are much higher than other methods.
  • Mass absorption coefficients for BB are higher due to the presence of brown carbon.


In this study we evaluate the recently upgraded aethalometer (AE33) and the newly released tricolor absorption photometer (TAP) with respect to their response to wildfire aerosol plumes during their deployment at the Mount Bachelor Observatory (MBO; 2763 m a.s.l.) in central Oregon, USA, during the summer of 2016. While both instruments use similar methodology (i.e., light extinction through an aerosol-laden filter), each has a unique set of correction schemes to address artifacts originating from filter loading, scattering from captured aerosol particles, and multiple scattering effects of the filter fibers. We also utilize a Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2) to determine refractory black carbon (rBC) in these air masses. In addition to comparing the AE33 filter-loading correction methodology to previously published aethalometer correction schemes, we also compare the AE33 to the correction schemes used for the TAP and evaluate the degree to which the different correction factors influence the derived absorption Ångström exponents (AAE) and mass absorption cross sections (MACs). We find that while the different correction factors for either the AE33 or TAP do exert an influence on the derived MACs, AAEs exhibit the most sensitivity to the correction schemes. Our study finds that using the AE33 manufacturer’s recommended settings results in aerosol light absorption coefficients that are 3.4 to 4 times greater than the aerosol light absorption coefficients reported by the TAP. We calculated a correction factor (Cf) of 4.35 for the AE33 by normalizing the AE33 to match the TAP. The uncorrected AE33 also gives equivalent black carbon (eBC) values that are approximately 2 times the rBC measured by the SP2 instrument. We also find that biomass burning aerosols result in significant MAC enhancements, particularly at lower wavelengths, which is attributable to brown carbon (BrC).


Aerosol scattering Aerosol absorption SP2 AE33 TAP PSAP

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