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Keywords:

  • black carbon;
  • aerosol

[1] A single-particle soot photometer (SP2) was flown on a NASA WB-57F high-altitude research aircraft in November 2004 from Houston, Texas. The SP2 uses laser-induced incandescence to detect individual black carbon (BC) particles in an air sample in the mass range of ∼3–300 fg (∼0.15–0.7 μm volume equivalent diameter). Scattered light is used to size the remaining non-BC aerosols in the range of ∼0.17–0.7 μm diameter. We present profiles of both aerosol types from the boundary layer to the lower stratosphere from two midlatitude flights. Results for total aerosol amounts in the size range detected by the SP2 are in good agreement with typical particle spectrometer measurements in the same region. All ambient incandescing particles were identified as BC because their incandescence properties matched those of laboratory-generated BC aerosol. Approximately 40% of these BC particles showed evidence of internal mixing (e.g., coating). Throughout profiles between 5 and 18.7 km, BC particles were less than a few percent of total aerosol number, and black carbon aerosol (BCA) mass mixing ratio showed a constant gradient with altitude above 5 km. SP2 data was compared to results from the ECHAM4/MADE and LmDzT-INCA global aerosol models. The comparison will help resolve the important systematic differences in model aerosol processes that determine BCA loadings. Further intercomparisons of models and measurements as presented here will improve the accuracy of the radiative forcing contribution from BCA.