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Title: Laboratory Experiments and Instrument Intercomparison Studies of Carbonaceous Aerosol Particles

Aerosols containing black carbon (and some specific types of organic particulate matter) directly absorb incoming light, heating the atmosphere. In addition, all aerosol particles backscatter solar light, leading to a net-cooling effect. Indirect effects involve hydrophilic aerosols, which serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) that affect cloud cover and cloud stability, impacting both atmospheric radiation balance and precipitation patterns. At night, all clouds produce local warming, but overall clouds exert a net-cooling effect on the Earth. The effect of aerosol radiative forcing on climate may be as large as that of the greenhouse gases, but predominantly opposite in sign and much more uncertain. The uncertainties in the representation of aerosol interactions in climate models makes it problematic to use model projections to guide energy policy. The objective of our program is to reduce the uncertainties in the aerosol radiative forcing in the two areas highlighted in the ASR Science and Program Plan. That is, (1) addressing the direct effect by correlating particle chemistry and morphology with particle optical properties (i.e. absorption, scattering, extinction), and (2) addressing the indirect effect by correlating particle hygroscopicity and CCN activity with particle size, chemistry, and morphology. In this connection we are systematically studying particlemore » formation, oxidation, and the effects of particle coating. The work is specifically focused on carbonaceous particles where the uncertainties in the climate relevant properties are the highest. The ongoing work consists of laboratory experiments and related instrument inter-comparison studies both coordinated with field and modeling studies, with the aim of providing reliable data to represent aerosol processes in climate models. The work is performed in the aerosol laboratory at Boston College. At the center of our laboratory setup are two main sources for the production of aerosol particles: (a) two well-characterized source of soot particles and (b) a flow reactor for controlled OH and/or O3 oxidation of relevant gas phase species to produce well-characterized SOA particles. After formation, the aerosol particles are subjected to physical and chemical processes that simulate aerosol growth and aging. A suite of instruments in our laboratory is used to characterize the physical and chemical properties of aerosol particles before and after processing. The Time of Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (ToF-AMS) together with a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) measures particle mass, volume, density, composition (including black carbon content), dynamic shape factor, and fractal dimension. The–ToF-AMS was developed at ARI with Boston College participation. About 120 AMS instruments are now in service (including 5 built for DOE laboratories) performing field and laboratory studies world-wide. Other major instruments include a thermal denuder, two Differential Mobility Analyzers (DMA), a Cloud Condensation Nuclei Counter (CCN), a Thermal desorption Aerosol GC/MS (TAG) and the new Soot Particle Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (SP-AMS). Optical instrumentation required for the studies have been brought to our laboratory as part of ongoing and planned collaborative projects with colleagues from DOE, NOAA and university laboratories. Optical instruments that will be utilized include a Photoacoustic Spectrometer (PAS), a Cavity Ring Down Aerosol Extinction Spectrometer (CRD-AES), a Photo Thermal Interferometer (PTI), a new 7-wavelength Aethalometer and a Cavity Attenuated Phase Shift Extinction Monitor (CAPS). These instruments are providing aerosol absorption, extinction and scattering coefficients at a range of atmospherically relevant wavelengths. During the past two years our work has continued along the lines of our original proposal. We report on 12 completed and/or continuing projects conducted during the period 08/14 to 0814/2015. These projects are described in 17 manuscripts published in refereed journals.« less
  1. Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (United States)
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OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
Aerodyne Research Inc., Billerica, MA (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States