On Aethalometer measurement uncertainties and an instrument correction factor for the Arctic
Abstract. Several types of filter-based instruments are used to estimate aerosol light absorption coefficients. Two significant results are presented based on Aethalometer measurements at six Arctic stations from 2012 to 2014. First, an alternative method of post-processing the Aethalometer data is presented, which reduces measurement noise and lowers the detection limit of the instrument more effectively than boxcar averaging. The biggest benefit of this approach can be achieved if instrument drift is minimised. Moreover, by using an attenuation threshold criterion for data post-processing, the relative uncertainty from the electronic noise of the instrument is kept constant. This approach results in a time series with a variable collection time (Δt) but with a constant relative uncertainty with regard to electronic noise in the instrument. An additional advantage of this method is that the detection limit of the instrument will be lowered at small aerosol concentrations at the expense of temporal resolution, whereas there is little to no loss in temporal resolution at high aerosol concentrations ( > 2.1–6.7 Mm−1 as measured by the Aethalometers). At high aerosol concentrations, minimising the detection limit of the instrument is less critical. Additionally, utilising co-located filter-based absorption photometers, a correction factor is presented for the Arctic that can be used in Aethalometer corrections available in literature. The correction factor of 3.45 was calculated for low-elevation Arctic stations. This correction factor harmonises Aethalometer attenuation coefficients with light absorption coefficients as measured by the co-located light absorption photometers. Using one correction factor for Arctic Aethalometers has the advantage that measurements between stations become more inter-comparable.