Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 1491–1503, 2011
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 1491–1503, 2011

Research article 16 Feb 2011

Research article | 16 Feb 2011

Chemical, physical, and optical evolution of biomass burning aerosols: a case study

G. Adler1, J. M. Flores2,3, A. Abo Riziq1, S. Borrmann2,3, and Y. Rudich1 G. Adler et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
  • 2Department of Particle Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz 55128, Germany
  • 3University of Mainz, Institute for Atmospheric Physics, Mainz 55099, Germany

Abstract. In-situ chemical composition measurements of ambient aerosols have been used for characterizing the evolution of submicron aerosols from a large anthropogenic biomass burning (BB) event in Israel. A high resolution Time of Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (HR-RES-TOF-AMS) was used to follow the chemical evolution of BB aerosols during a night-long, extensive nationwide wood burning event and during the following day. While these types of extensive BB events are not common in this region, burning of agricultural waste is a common practice. The aging process of the BB aerosols was followed through their chemical, physical and optical properties. Mass spectrometric analysis of the aerosol organic component showed that aerosol aging is characterized by shifting from less oxidized fresh BB aerosols to more oxidized aerosols. Evidence for aerosol aging during the day following the BB event was indicated by an increase in the organic mass, its oxidation state, the total aerosol concentration, and a shift in the modal particle diameter. The effective broadband refractive index (EBRI) was derived using a white light optical particle counter (WELAS). The average EBRI for a mixed population of aerosols dominated by open fires was m = 1.53(±0.03) + 0.07i(±0.03), during the smoldering phase of the fires we found the EBRI to be m = 1.54(±0.01) + 0.04i(±0.01) compared to m = 1.49(±0.01) + 0.02i(±0.01) of the aged aerosols during the following day. This change indicates a decrease in the overall aerosol absorption and scattering. Elevated levels of particulate Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) were detected during the entire event, which suggest possible implications for human health during such extensive event.

Final-revised paper