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Aerosol optical properties in a rural environment near the mega-city Guangzhou, China: implications for regional air pollution and radiative forcing

Abstract : The scattering and absorption of solar radiation by atmospheric aerosols is a key element of the Earth's radiative energy balance and climate. The optical properties of aerosol particles are, however, highly variable and not well characterized, especially near newly emerging mega-cities. In this study, aerosol optical properties were measured at a regional background site approximately 60 km northwest of the mega-city Guangzhou in southeast China. The measurements were part of the "Program of Regional Integrated Experiments of Air Quality over the Pearl River Delta" intensive campaign (PRIDE-PRD2006), covering the period of 1?30 July 2006. Scattering and absorption coefficients of dry aerosol particles with diameters up to 10 ?m (PM10) were determined with a three-wavelength integrating nephelometer and with a photoacoustic spectrometer, respectively.

Averaged over the measurement campaign (arithmetic mean ±standard deviation), the total scattering coefficients were 200±133 Mm?1 (450 nm), 151±103 Mm?1 (550 nm) and 104±72 Mm?1 (700 nm) and the absorption coefficient was 34.3±26.5 Mm?1 (532 nm). The average Ångström exponent was 1.46±0.21 (450 nm/700 nm) and the average single scattering albedo was 0.82±0.07 (532 nm) with minimum values as low as 0.5. The low single scattering albedo values indicate a high abundance of, as well as strong sources of light absorbing carbon (LAC). The ratio of LAC to CO concentration was highly variable throughout the campaign, indicating a complex mix of different combustion sources. The scattering and absorption coefficients, as well as the Ångström exponent and single scattering albedo, exhibited pronounced diurnal cycles, which can be attributed to boundary layer mixing effects and enhanced nighttime emissions of LAC (diesel soot from regulated truck traffic). The daytime average single scattering albedo of 0.87 appears to be more suitable for climate modeling purposes than the 24-h average of 0.82, as the latter value is strongly influenced by fresh emissions into a shallow nocturnal boundary layer. In spite of high photochemical activity during daytime, we found no evidence for strong local production of secondary aerosol mass.

The relatively low average mass scattering efficiency with respect to PM10 (2.84±0.037 m2 g?1, ?=550 nm) indicates a high proportion of mass in the coarse particle fraction (diameter >1 ?m). During high pollution episodes, however, the Ångström exponent exhibited a dependence on wavelength, which indicates an enhancement of the fine particle fraction during these periods. A negative correlation between single scattering albedo and backscatter fraction was observed and found to affect the impact that these parameters have on aerosol radiative forcing efficiency.
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R. M. Garland, H. Yang, O. Schmid, D. Rose, A. Nowak, et al.. Aerosol optical properties in a rural environment near the mega-city Guangzhou, China: implications for regional air pollution and radiative forcing. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, European Geosciences Union, 2008, 8 (2), pp.6845-6901. ⟨hal-00304082⟩

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