Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 20471-20513, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Light absorption by organic carbon from wood combustion
Y. Chen and T. C. Bond
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL, USA

Abstract. Carbonaceous aerosols affect the radiative balance of the Earth by absorbing and scattering light. While BC is highly absorbing, some organic compounds also have significant absorption, which is greater at near-ultraviolet and blue wavelengths. To the extent that OC absorbs visible light, it may be a non-negligible contributor to direct aerosol radiative forcing.

In this work, we examine absorption by primary OC emitted from solid fuel pyrolysis. We provide absorption spectra of this material, which can be related to the imaginary refractive index. This material has polar character but is not fully water-soluble: more than 92% was extractable by methanol or acetone, compared with 73% for water and 52% for hexane. Water-soluble organic carbon contributed to light absorption at both ultraviolet and visible wavelengths. However, a larger portion came from organic carbon that is extractable only by methanol. The spectra of water-soluble organic carbon are similar to others in the literature. We compared spectra for material generated with different wood type, wood size and pyrolysis temperature. Higher wood temperature is the main factor creating organic aerosol with higher absorption, causing about a factor of four increase in mass-normalized absorption at visible wavelengths. A simple model suggests that, despite the absorption, both high-temperature and low-temperature carbon have negative climate forcing over a surface with average albedo.

Citation: Chen, Y. and Bond, T. C.: Light absorption by organic carbon from wood combustion, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 20471-20513, doi:10.5194/acpd-9-20471-2009, 2009.
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