Individual aerosol particles from biomass burning in southern Africa: 1. Compositions and size distributions of carbonaceous particles

Mihály Pósfai, Renáta Simonics, Jia Li, Peter V. Hobbs, P R Buseck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Individual aerosol particles in smoke plumes from biomass fires and in regional hazes in southern Africa were studied using analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which allowed detailed characterization of carbonaceous particle types in smoke and determination of changes in particle properties and concentrations during smoke aging. Based on composition, morphology, and microstructure, three distinct types of carbonaceous particles were present in the smoke: organic particles with inorganic (K-salt) inclusions, "tar ball" particles, and soot. The relative number concentrations of organic particles were largest in young smoke, whereas tar balls were dominant in a slightly aged (∼1 hour) smoke from a smoldering fire. Flaming fires emitted relatively more soot particles than smoldering fires, but soot was a minor constituent of all studied plumes. Further aging caused the accumulation of sulfate on organic and soot particles, as indicated by the large number of internally mixed organic/sulfate and soot/sulfate particles in the regional haze. Externally mixed ammonium sulfate particles dominated in the boundary layer hazes, whereas organic/sulfate particles were the most abundant type in the upper hazes. Apparently, elevated haze layers were more strongly affected by biomass smoke than those within the boundary layer. Based on size distributions and the observed patterns of internal mixing, we hypothesize that organic and soot particles are the cloud-nucleating constituents of biomass smoke aerosols. Sea-salt particles dominated in the samples taken in stratus clouds over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Namibia, whereas a distinct haze layer above the clouds consisted of aged biomass smoke particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
Volume108
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2003

Fingerprint

biomass burning
Aerosols
Smoke
Soot
aerosols
Biomass
aerosol
smoke
Chemical analysis
haze
soot
Sulfuric Acid Esters
Fires
Tars
biomass
sulfates
Sulfates
smoldering
sulfate
Boundary layers

Keywords

  • Biomass burning
  • Carbonaceous aerosol
  • Individual particles
  • TEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Individual aerosol particles from biomass burning in southern Africa : 1. Compositions and size distributions of carbonaceous particles. / Pósfai, Mihály; Simonics, Renáta; Li, Jia; Hobbs, Peter V.; Buseck, P R.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres, Vol. 108, No. 13, 2003.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Hobbs, Peter V.

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