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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Black carbon aerosol over the Los Angeles Basin during CalNex

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Abstract

[1] Refractory black carbon (rBC) mass and number concentrations were quantified by a Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2) in the CalNex 2010 field study on board the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Twin Otter in the Los Angeles (LA) Basin in May, 2010. The mass concentrations of rBC in the LA Basin ranged from 0.002–0.530μg m−3, with an average of 0.172 μg m−3. Lower concentrations were measured in the Basin outflow regions and above the inversion layer. The SP2 afforded a quantification of the mixing state of rBC aerosols through modeling the scattering cross-section with a core-and-shell Mie model to determine coating thickness. The rBC particles above the inversion layer were more thickly coated by a light-scattering substance than those below, indicating a more aged aerosol in the free troposphere. Near the surface, as the LA plume is advected from west to east with the sea breeze, a coating of scattering material grows on rBC particles, coincident with a clear growth of ammonium nitrate within the LA Basin and the persistence of water-soluble organic compounds as the plume travels through the outflow regions. Detailed analysis of the rBC mixing state reveals two modes of coated rBC particles; a mode with smaller rBC core diameters (∼90 nm) but thick (>200 nm) coating diameters and a mode with larger rBC cores (∼145 nm) with a thin (<75 nm) coating. The “weekend effect” in the LA Basin results in more thickly coated rBC particles, coinciding with more secondary formation of aerosol.

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