Predicting ambient aerosol thermal–optical reflectance (TOR) measurements from infrared spectra: extending the predictions to different years and different sites
Abstract. Organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) are major components of atmospheric particulate matter (PM), which has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality, climate change, and reduced visibility. Typically OC and EC concentrations are measured using thermal–optical methods such as thermal–optical reflectance (TOR) from samples collected on quartz filters. In this work, we estimate TOR OC and EC using Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) absorbance spectra from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE Teflon) filters using partial least square regression (PLSR) calibrated to TOR OC and EC measurements for a wide range of samples. The proposed method can be integrated with analysis of routinely collected PTFE filter samples that, in addition to OC and EC concentrations, can concurrently provide information regarding the functional group composition of the organic aerosol. We have used the FT-IR absorbance spectra and TOR OC and EC concentrations collected in the Interagency Monitoring of PROtected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network (USA). We used 526 samples collected in 2011 at seven sites to calibrate the models, and more than 2000 samples collected in 2013 at 17 sites to test the models. Samples from six sites are present both in the calibration and test sets. The calibrations produce accurate predictions both for samples collected at the same six sites present in the calibration set (R2 = 0.97 and R2 = 0.95 for OC and EC respectively), and for samples from 9 of the 11 sites not included in the calibration set (R2 = 0.96 and R2 = 0.91 for OC and EC respectively). Samples collected at the other two sites require a different calibration model to achieve accurate predictions. We also propose a method to anticipate the prediction error; we calculate the squared Mahalanobis distance in the feature space (scores determined by PLSR) between new spectra and spectra in the calibration set. The squared Mahalanobis distance provides a crude method for assessing the magnitude of mean error when applying a calibration model to a new set of samples.