Complex refractive indices in the ultraviolet and visible spectral region for highly absorbing non-spherical biomass burning aerosol Public Deposited

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  • Biomass burning aerosol is a major source of PM2.5, and significantly affects Earth's radiative budget. The magnitude of its radiative effect is poorly quantified due to uncertainty in the optical properties of aerosol formed from biomass burning. Using a broadband cavity-enhanced spectrometer with a recently increased spectral range (360–720 nm) coupled to a size-selecting aerosol inlet, we retrieve complex refractive indices of aerosol throughout the near-ultraviolet and visible spectral region. We demonstrate refractive index retrievals for two standard aerosol samples: polystyrene latex spheres and ammonium sulfate. We then retrieve refractive indices for biomass burning aerosol from 13 controlled fires during the 2016 Missoula Fire Science Laboratory Study. We demonstrate that the technique is highly sensitive to the accuracy of the aerosol size distribution method and find that while we can constrain the optical properties of brown carbon aerosol for many fires, fresh smoke dominated by fractal-like black carbon aerosol presents unique challenges and is not well-represented by Mie theory. For the 13 fires, we show that the accuracy of Mie theory retrievals decreases as the fraction of black carbon mass increases. At 475 nm, the average refractive index is 1.635 (±0.056) +0.06 (±0.12)i, and at 365 nm, the average refractive index is 1.605 (±0.041) +0.038 (±0.074)i.


Date Issued
  • 2021
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 9
Journal Volume
  • 21
Last Modified
  • 2022-08-12
Resource Type
Rights Statement
  • 1680-7324