Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 451–461, 2015
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 451–461, 2015

Research article 27 Jan 2015

Research article | 27 Jan 2015

Multi-wavelength optical measurement to enhance thermal/optical analysis for carbonaceous aerosol

L.-W. A. Chen1,2,3, J. C. Chow2,3, X. L. Wang2, J. A. Robles2, B. J. Sumlin2, D. H. Lowenthal2, R. Zimmermann4, and J. G. Watson2,3 L.-W. A. Chen et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154, USA
  • 2Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada 89512, USA
  • 3Key Laboratory of Aerosol Science & Technology, SKLLQG, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, China
  • 4Joint Mass Spectrometry Centre, Chair of Analytical Chemistry, Institute of Chemistry, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany

Abstract. A thermal/optical carbon analyzer equipped with seven-wavelength light source/detector (405–980 nm) for monitoring spectral reflectance (R) and transmittance (T) of filter samples allowed "thermal spectral analysis (TSA)" and wavelength (λ)-dependent organic-carbon (OC)–elemental-carbon (EC) measurements. Optical sensing was calibrated with transfer standards traceable to absolute R and T measurements, adjusted for loading effects to report spectral light absorption (as absorption optical depth (τa, λ)), and verified using diesel exhaust samples. Tests on ambient and source samples show OC and EC concentrations equivalent to those from conventional carbon analysis when based on the same wavelength (~ 635 nm) for pyrolysis adjustment. TSA provides additional information that evaluates black-carbon (BC) and brown-carbon (BrC) contributions and their optical properties in the near infrared to the near ultraviolet parts of the solar spectrum. The enhanced carbon analyzer can add value to current aerosol monitoring programs and provide insight into more accurate OC and EC measurements for climate, visibility, or health studies.