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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 38, Iss. 12 — Apr. 20, 1999
  • pp: 2369–2376

Atmospheric particulate absorption and black carbon measurement

James D. Lindberg, Rex E. Douglass, and Dennis M. Garvey  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 38, Issue 12, pp. 2369-2376 (1999)

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It is convenient to measure the optical attenuation A of the combination of a layer of atmospheric particulate matter and the quartz fiber filter on which it has been collected. The problem of relating A to the absorption and scattering coefficients k and s of the particulate matter itself is treated as a problem in diffuse reflectance spectroscopy using the Kubelka–Munk theory. The results show that although, in general, A is a nonlinear function strongly dependent on both s and k, for a limited range of s and sample thickness d, A can be a practically linear function of k. Fortunately, this range includes that common to atmospheric particulate samples. Furthermore, it is shown that if the filter’s reflectance is sufficiently high, A can be nearly independent of s. This is in agreement with experimental and, for the limiting case when the substrate filter reflectance is unity, theoretical results obtained by other researchers. Use of such measurements of A as a means of determining the black carbon mass loading C on a filter is also investigated. It is shown that when the black carbon mass fraction f c is high, as it is for samples collected in large urban areas, A is a predictable and practically linear function of C. However, when f c is low, as it is for many rural locations, then the slope of the function A(C) is strongly dependent on f c , leading to possible overestimates of C. This problem can be alleviated by making the measurement of A at near-infrared wavelengths rather than in the visible spectrum.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(010.0010) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric and oceanic optics
(010.1120) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Air pollution monitoring
(010.1280) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric composition
(350.4990) Other areas of optics : Particles

Original Manuscript: July 17, 1998
Revised Manuscript: January 20, 1999
Published: April 20, 1999

James D. Lindberg, Rex E. Douglass, and Dennis M. Garvey, "Atmospheric particulate absorption and black carbon measurement," Appl. Opt. 38, 2369-2376 (1999)

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  17. In the notation used in the original development of the KM theory, both lower- and upper-case symbols are used for the coefficients, with the definition 2k = K and 2s = S. This was done to eliminate a factor of 2 in the final equations and frequently causes confusion. In our research we use the lower-case symbols exclusively. For more detail on these specific expressions, see Ref. 16, pp. 106–120.
  18. Our definition of attenuation does not include the arbitrary factor of 100 that was used in Refs. 10, 11, and 12.
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  21. Laboratory measurement of fc is necessarily done on a mixture of carbon soot and a diluent powder. Because of the extremely high value of fc it is difficult to obtain a laboratory carbon sample reduced sufficiently in particle size to meet the requirements of the KM theory. This leads to an underestimate of fc. A value of 240,000 cm-1 rather than our value of 210,000 cm-1 would be more consistent with the research of Ref. 12.
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  23. There is a further reason for making the measurements at near-IR wavelengths. Some laboratory methods determining carbon composition of samples involve burning the sample to remove carbon while using the LTM for monitoring black carbon content. Iron compounds, abundant in aerosols as trace materials, all result in Fe2O3 when completely oxidized. This iron oxide is a strong absorber in the visible spectrum where it adds absorption that may not be properly accounted for. This does not occur for near-IR wavelengths (see Refs. 4 and 14).

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