1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio Unit, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
2University of Eastern Finland, Department of Applied Physics, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
3Atmospheric Chemistry Research Group, North-West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
4Finnish Meteorological Institute, Research and Development, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. We introduce a four-year (2006–2010) continuous data set of aerosol optical properties at Puijo in Kuopio, Finland. We study the annual and diurnal variation of the aerosol scattering and absorption coefficients, hemispheric backscattering fraction, scattering Ångström exponent, and single scattering albedo, whose averages over this period were 11.1 Mm−1 (at 550 nm), 1.5 Mm−1 (at 670 nm), 0.13, 1.9, and 0.83, respectively. The scattering coefficient peaked in the spring and autumn, being 2–4 times those in the summer and winter. An exception was the summer of 2010, when the the scattering coefficient was elevated to ~300 Mm−1 by the plumes from forest fires in Russia. The absorption coefficient peaked in the winter with values of 2–3 times those in the summer. The single scattering albedo was lowest in the winter when more biomass burning derived, soot-containing aerosols were present. The optical properties varied also with wind direction and time of the day, indicating the effect of the local pollutant sources and the age of the particles. Peak values in the single scattering albedo were observed when the wind blew from a paper mill and from the sector without local pollutant sources. These observations were linked to the sulphate-rich aerosol from the paper mill and the oxygenated organics in the aged aerosol, which both are known to increase the scattering characteristics of aerosols. Changes in the single scattering albedo in the morning and afternoon in the summertime were linked to the increased traffic density at these hours. The scattering and absorption coefficients were found to be decreased by clouds. The effect was stronger for the scattering than absorption, indicating preferential activation of the more hygroscopic aerosol with higher scattering characteristics. What happens to the aerosol optical properties during a cloud event when the air masses come from different directions with different local sources, is under a more detailed inspection. Also, more aerosol mass spectrometry data will be analyzed in order to strengthen our knowledge about the role of the chemical composition of the aerosol particles in their activation into cloud droplets.