Honey Dawn C. Alas This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1, Thomas Müller1, Kay Weinhold1, Sascha Pfeifer1, Kristina Glojek2, Asta Gregorič3,4, Griša Močnik3,5, Luka Drinovec3,5, Francesca Costabile6, Martina Ristorini7, Alfred Wiedensohler1

1 Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
2 Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
3 Center for Atmospheric Research, University of Nova Gorica, Ajdovščina, Slovenia
4 Aerosol d.o.o., Kamniška 39 A, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
5 Condensed Matter Physics Department, J. Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
6 Institute of Atmospheric Science and Climate, National Research Council, Rome, Italy
7 Department of Bioscience and Territory, University of Molise, Pesche, Italy


Received: March 24, 2020
Revised: July 27, 2020
Accepted: September 4, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.03.0113  

Cite this article:

Alas, H.D.C., Müller, T., Weinhold, K., Pfeifer, S., Glojek, K., Gregorič, A., Močnik, G., Drinovec, L., Costabile, F., Ristorini, M. and Wiedensohler, A. (2020). Performance of microAethalometers: Real-world Field Intercomparisons from Multiple Mobile Measurement Campaigns in Different Atmospheric Environments. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2640–2653. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.03.0113


  • microAethalometers were evaluated in different real-world environments.
  • The unit-to-unit variability of the AE51 is low, up to 5% in urban areas.
  • IC between AE51 and reference should be done for long periods in homogenous areas.
  • The new MA200 correlates well with itself, AE51, and AE33 across all wavelengths.
  • eBC data of AE51 and MA200 from homogenous areas must be corrected for loading effect.


Small aethalometers are frequently used to measure equivalent black carbon (eBC) mass concentrations in the context of personal exposure and air pollution mapping through mobile measurements (MM). The most widely used is the microAethalometer (AE51). Its performance in the laboratory and field is well documented, however, there is not sufficient data in the context of its performance in different environments. In this investigation, we present the characterization of the performance of the AE51 through field unit-to-unit intercomparisons (IC), and against a reference absorption photometer from three MM campaigns conducted in drastically different environments. Five IC parameters were considered: i) study area, ii) location of IC, iii) time of day, iv) duration of IC, and v) correction for the filter-loading effect. We can conclude that it is crucial where and how long the IC have been performed in terms of the correlation between the mobile and reference instruments. Better correlations (R2 > 0.8, slope = 0.8) are achieved for IC performed in rural, and background areas for more than 10 minutes. In locations with more homogenous atmosphere, the correction of the loading effect improved the correlation between the mobile and reference instruments. In addition, a newer microAethalometer model (MA200) was characterized in the field under extreme cold conditions and correlated against another MA200 (R2 > 0.8, slope ≈ 1.0), AE51(R2 > 0.9, slope ≈ 0.9), and a stationary Aethalometer (AE33) across all wavelengths (R2 > 0.8, slope ≈ 0.7). For MA200, the loading effect was more pronounced, especially at the lower wavelengths, hence the correction of the loading effect is essential to improve the correlation against the AE33. The MA200 and AE51 proved to be robust and dependable portable instruments for MM applications. Real-world quality assurance of these instruments should be performed through field IC against reference instruments with longer durations in areas of slowly changing eBC concentration.

Keywords: Portable instruments; Mobile monitoring; Black carbon; Instrument intercomparisons.

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