Light scattering enhancement factors in the marine boundary layer (Mace Head, Ireland)



[1] Direct climate aerosol radiative forcing is influenced by the light scattering of atmospheric aerosols. The chemical composition, the size distribution, and the ambient relative humidity (RH) determine the amount of visible light scattered by aerosols. We measured the aerosol light scattering coefficients at RH varying from 30% to 90% of the marine atmosphere at the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station on the west coast of Ireland. At this site, two major air mass types can be distinguished: clean marine and polluted air. In this paper, we present measurements of light scattering enhancement factors f(RH) = σsp(RH)/σsp(dry) from a 1 month field campaign (January–February 2009). At this site in winter, the mean f(RH = 85%) (standard deviation) for marine air masses at the wavelength of 550 nm was 2.22 (±0.17) and 1.77 (±0.31) for polluted air. Measured σsp(RH) and f(RH) agreed well with calculations from Mie theory using measurements of the size distribution and hygroscopic diameter growth factors as input. In addition, we investigated the RH influence on additional intensive optical properties: the backscatter fraction and the single scattering albedo. The backscatter fraction decreased by about 20%, and the single scattering albedo increased on average by 1%–5% at 85% RH compared to dry conditions.