Atmospheric Aging and Its Impacts on Physical Properties of Soot Aerosols: Results from the 2009 SHARP/SOOT Campaign

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Thursday, 21 January 2010: 4:15 PM
B315 (GWCC)
Alexie Khalizov, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and J. Zheng, C. C. Reed, R. Zhang, D. R. Collins, and E. P. Olaguer Jr.

Atmospheric aerosols impact the Earth energy balance directly by scattering solar radiation back to space and indirectly by changing the albedo, frequency, and lifetime of clouds. Carbon soot (or black carbon) produced from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass burning represents a major component of primary aerosols. Because of high absorption cross-sections over a broad range of the electromagnetic spectra, black carbon contributes significantly to climate change by direct radiative forcing and is the second most important component causing global warming after carbon dioxide. In areas identified as aerosol hotspots, which include many megacities, solar heating by soot-containing aerosols is roughly comparable to heating due to greenhouse gases. In addition, light absorbing soot aerosols may reduce photolysis rates at the surface level, producing a noticeable impact on photochemistry. Enhanced light absorption and scattering by soot can stabilize the atmosphere, retarding vertical transport and exacerbating accumulation of gaseous and particulate matter (PM) pollutants within the planetary boundary layer. Less surface heating and atmospheric stabilization may decrease formation of clouds, and warming in the atmosphere can evaporate existing cloud droplets by lowering relative humidity. Furthermore, soot-containing aerosols represent a major type of PM that has adverse effects on human health. When first emitted, soot particles are low-density aggregates of loosely connected primary spherules. Freshly emitted soot particles are typically hydrophobic, but may become cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) during atmospheric aging by acquiring hydrophilic coatings. Hygroscopic soot particles, being efficient CCN, can exert indirect forcing on climate. In this talk, results will be presented on measurements of soot properties during the 2009 SHARP/SOOT Campaign. Ambient aerosols and fresh soot particles injected into a captured air chamber were monitored to investigate aging of soot-containing aerosols under polluted conditions. The measurements of aerosol properties include the size, mass, volatility, effective density, and optical properties.