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Published March 16, 2006 | Published
Journal Article Open

Photoacoustic insight for aerosol light absorption aloft from meteorological aircraft and comparison with particle soot absorption photometer measurements: DOE Southern Great Plains climate research facility and the coastal stratocumulus imposed perturbation experiments


Aerosol light absorption can be intense close to local sources such as wildland and oil fires, with smoke that disperses into the boundary layer and, with enough lift, into the upper atmosphere where it may be transported around the globe. Filter-based methods such as the Particle Soot Absorption Photometer (PSAP) are most commonly used to quantify aerosol light absorption aloft. This paper reports first measurements of aerosol light absorption aloft with photoacoustic instrumentation (PA). Three examples of aerosol light absorption are presented. The first one illustrates a case of detached layers aloft arising from intercontinental, interoceanic transport of smoke from wildland fires in Siberia to the North American continent and the measurement campaign held at the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program Climate Research Facility in north central Oklahoma. Then, two examples of intense local fire smoke light absorption from the Coastal Stratocumulus Imposed Perturbation Experiment near Marina, California, USA, are presented. The first local fire was an oil fire burning in a storage tank near Moss Landing, California, USA, and smoke from this fire was very dark, indicating a low single scattering albedo. By contrast, the second local fire was predominantly burning wood, vegetation, and structures near Fort Ord in Marina, California, USA, and the smoke was very bright, indicating a high single scattering albedo. In all examples, PA measurements at 676 nm were compared with those from a PSAP modified to measure at three wavelengths, including 660 nm.

Additional Information

© 2006 American Geophysical Union. Received 10 March 2005; revised 16 June 2005; accepted 10 August 2005; published 24 January 2006. Photoacoustic instrument development was supported by the National Science Foundation, grant ATM-0216572, and the Desert Research Institute. The IOP in Oklahoma was supported by the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program. CSTRIPE was supported by the Office of Naval Research, and photoacoustic instrument participation was supported by the National Science Foundation, grant ATM-0340423. We are especially grateful to the Twin Otter pilots for their enthusiastic and competent work and to all participants of both projects for their enthusiastic support and assistance. Patrick J. Sheridan of NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostic Laboratory provided essential guidance and assistance with evaluation of particle loss issues associated with the aircraft inlet system. We acknowledge the insights provided by David S. Covert of the University of Washington.

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