Vertical profiles of light absorption and scattering associated with black-carbon particle fractions in the springtime Arctic above 79° N Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract. Despite the potential importance of black carbon (BC) to radiative forcing of the Arctic atmosphere, vertically-resolved measurements of the particle light scattering coefficient (Bsp) and light absorption coefficient (Bap) in the springtime Arctic atmosphere are infrequent, especially measurements at latitudes at or above 80oN. Here, relationships among vertically-distributed aerosol optical properties Bap, Bsp, and single scattering albedo or SSA), particle microphysics and particle chemistry are examined for a region of the Canadian archipelago between 79.9oN and 83.4oN from near the surface to 500 hPa. Airborne data collected during April, 2015, are combined with ground-based observations from the observatory at Alert, Nunavut and simulations from the GEOS-Chem-TOMAS model (Kodros et al., 2018) to increase our knowledge of the effects of BC on light absorption in the Arctic troposphere. The results are constrained for Bsp less than 15 Mm-1, which represent 98% of the observed Bsp, because the single scattering albedo (SSA) has a tendency to be lower at lower Bsp, resulting in a larger relative contribution to Arctic warming. At 18.4 m2 g-1, the average BC mass absorption coefficient (MAC) from the combined airborne and Alert observations is substantially higher than the two averaged modelled MAC values (9.5 m2 g-1 and 7.0 m2 g-1) for two different internal mixing assumptions, the latter of which is based on previous observations. The higher observed MAC value may be explained by an underestimation of BC and possible differences in BC microphysics and morphologies between the observations and model. We present Bap and SSA based on the assumption that Bap is overestimated in the observations in addition to the assumption that the higher MAC is explained. Median values of the measured Bap, rBC and organic component of particles all increase by a factor of 1.8±0.1 going from near-surface to 750 hPa, and values higher than the surface persist to 600 hPa. Modelled BC, organics, and Bap agree with the near-surface measurements, but do not reproduce the higher values observed between 900 hPa and 600 hPa. The differences between modelled and observed optical properties follow the same trend as the differences between the modelled and observed concentrations of the carbonaceous components (black and organic). Some discrepancies in the model may be due to the use of a relatively low imaginary refractive index of BC as well as by the ejection of biomass burning particles only into the boundary layer at sources. For the assumption of the higher observed MAC value, the SSA range between 0.88 and 0.94, which is significantly lower than other recent estimates for the Arctic, in part reflecting the constraint of Bsp <15 Mm-1. The large uncertainties in measuring optical properties and BC as well as the large differences between measured and modelled values, here and in the literature, argue for improved measurements of BC and light absorption by BC as well as more vertical profiles of aerosol chemistry, microphysics, and other optical properties in the Arctic.;

publication date

  • September 11, 2019

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • July 8, 2023 4:57 AM

Full Author List

  • Leaitch WR; Kodros JK; Willis MD; Hanna S; Schulz H; Andrews E; Bozem H; Burkart J; Hoor P; Kolonjari F

author count

  • 18

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