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Solar absorption by elemental and brown carbon determined from spectral observations.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23045698     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Black carbon (BC) is functionally defined as the absorbing component of atmospheric total carbonaceous aerosols (TC) and is typically dominated by soot-like elemental carbon (EC). However, organic carbon (OC) has also been shown to absorb strongly at visible to UV wavelengths and the absorbing organics are referred to as brown carbon (BrC), which is typically not represented in climate models. We propose an observationally based analytical method for rigorously partitioning measured absorption aerosol optical depths (AAOD) and single scattering albedo (SSA) among EC and BrC, using multiwavelength measurements of total (EC, OC, and dust) absorption. EC is found to be strongly absorbing (SSA of 0.38) whereas the BrC SSA varies globally between 0.77 and 0.85. The method is applied to the California region. We find TC (EC + BrC) contributes 81% of the total absorption at 675 nm and 84% at 440 nm. The BrC absorption at 440 nm is about 40% of the EC, whereas at 675 nm it is less than 10% of EC. We find an enhanced absorption due to OC in the summer months and in southern California (related to forest fires and secondary OC). The fractions and trends are broadly consistent with aerosol chemical-transport models as well as with regional emission inventories, implying that we have obtained a representative estimate for BrC absorption. The results demonstrate that current climate models that treat OC as nonabsorbing are underestimating the total warming effect of carbonaceous aerosols by neglecting part of the atmospheric heating, particularly over biomass-burning regions that emit BrC.
Authors:
Ranjit Bahadur; Puppala S Praveen; Yangyang Xu; V Ramanathan
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2012-10-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  109     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2012 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-10-24     Completed Date:  2013-01-07     Revised Date:  2013-04-23    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  17366-71     Citation Subset:  -    
Affiliation:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0221, USA.
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