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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  28 Oct 2020

28 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Characterizing the Arctic absorbing aerosol with multi-instrument observations

Eija Asmi1, John Backman1, Henri Servomaa1, Aki Virkkula1, Maria Gini2, Kostas Eleftheriadis2, Thomas Müller3, Sho Ohata4,5, Yutaka Kondo6, and Antti Hyvärinen1 Eija Asmi et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2ERL Institute of Nuclear and Radiological Science & Technology, NCRS Demokritos, Attiki, Greece
  • 3Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research e.V. (TROPOS), Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Institute for Space–Earth Environmental Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
  • 5Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
  • 6National Institute of Polar Research, Tachikawa, Japan

Abstract. The Arctic absorbing aerosols have a high potential to accelerate global warming. Accurate and sensitive measurements of their concentrations, variability and atmospheric mixing are needed. Filter-based aerosol light absorption measurement methods are the most widely applied in the Arctic. Those will be the focus of this study. Aerosol light absorption was measured during one month field campaign in June–July 2019 at the Pallas Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) station in northern Finland. The campaign provided a real-world test for different absorption measurement techniques supporting the goals of the EMPIR BC metrology project in developing aerosol absorption standard and reference methods. Very low aerosol concentrations prevailed during the campaign which imposed a challenge for the instruments detection. In this study we compare the results from five filter-based absorption techniques: Aethalometer models AE31 and AE33, Particle Soot Absorption Photometer (PSAP), Multi Angle Absorption Photometer (MAAP) and Continuous Soot Monitoring System (COSMOS), and from one indirect method called Extinction Minus Scattering (EMS). The sensitivity of the filter-based techniques was adequate to measure aerosol light absorption coefficients down to around 0.05 Mm−1 levels. The average value measured during the campaign using MAAP was 0.09 Mm−1 (at wavelength of 637 nm). When data were averaged for > 1 h, an agreement of around 20 % was obtained between instruments. COSMOS measured systematically the lowest absorption coefficient values, which was expected due to the sample pre-treatment in COSMOS inlet. PSAP showed the best linear correlation with MAAP (R2 = 0.85), followed by AE33 and COSMOS (R2 = 0.84). The noisy data from AE31 resulted in a slightly lower, yet a significant, correlation with MAAP (R2 = 0.46). In contrast to the filter-based techniques, the sensitivity of the indirect EMS method to measure aerosol absorption was not adequate at such low concentrations levels. An absorption coefficient on the order of > 1 Mm−1 was estimated as the lowest limit, to reliably distinguish the signal from the noise. Throughout the campaign the aerosol was highly scattering with an average single-scattering albedo of 0.97. Two different air-mass origins could be identified: the north-east and from the north-west. The north-eastern air masses contained higher fraction of thickly coated light absorbing particles than the westerly air masses. Aerosol scattering, absorption and the particle coating thickness increased on the last ten days of the campaign during the north-eastern air flow. The simultaneous changes in aerosol source region, mixing state, concentration and particle optical size were reflected in the instruments' response in a complex way. The observed decrease in aerosol size suggested additional activation of secondary particle formation mechanisms. The results demonstrate the challenges encountered in the Arctic absorbing aerosol measurements. The applicability and uncertainties of different techniques are discussed and new knowledge on the absorbing aerosol characteristics in summer Arctic air masses reference to the source region is provided.

Eija Asmi et al.

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Eija Asmi et al.

Eija Asmi et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Absorbing aerosols are warming the Arctic and accurate measurements of their concentrations are crucial. We organized a summer field campaign in Arctic Pallas station, measuring absorbing aerosols with eight methods. The concentrations during the campaign were very low. Filter-based techniques were the most sensitive to detect the minuscule amounts of absorbing aerosols, showing a 20 % agreement between the instruments. Our results help to reduce uncertainties in Arctic absorption measurements.
Absorbing aerosols are warming the Arctic and accurate measurements of their concentrations are...