Single scattering albedo (ω) of fresh biomass burning (BB) aerosols produced from 92 controlled laboratory combustion experiments of 20 different woods and grasses was analyzed to determine the factors that control the variability in ω. Results show that ω varies strongly with fire-integrated modified combustion efficiency (MCEFI)—higher MCEFI results in lower ω values and greater spectral dependence of ω. A parameterization of ω as a function of MCEFI for fresh BB aerosols is derived from the laboratory data and is evaluated by field observations from two wildfires. The parameterization suggests that MCEFI explains 60% of the variability in ω, while the 40% unexplained variability could be accounted for by other parameters such as fuel type. Our parameterization provides a promising framework that requires further validation and is amenable for refinements to predict ω with greater confidence, which is critical for estimating the radiative forcing of BB aerosols.
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