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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 10
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5089–5101, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5089–5101, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 16 May 2013

Research article | 16 May 2013

Effects of internal mixing and aggregate morphology on optical properties of black carbon using a discrete dipole approximation model

B. V. Scarnato1,*, S. Vahidinia1,2, D. T. Richard3, and T. W. Kirchstetter4,5 B. V. Scarnato et al.
  • 1Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
  • 2Oak Ridge Associated Universities, NASA Ames Research Center, MS 245-5, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000, USA
  • 3Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7000 East Ave, Livermore, CA 94550, USA
  • 4Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • 5Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1710, USA
  • *currently at: Dept. of Meteorology, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93943, USA

Abstract. According to recent studies, internal mixing of black carbon (BC) with other aerosol materials in the atmosphere alters its aggregate shape, absorption of solar radiation, and radiative forcing. These mixing state effects are not yet fully understood. In this study, we characterize the morphology and mixing state of bare BC and BC internally mixed with sodium chloride (NaCl) using electron microscopy and examine the sensitivity of optical properties to BC mixing state and aggregate morphology using a discrete dipole approximation model (DDSCAT). DDSCAT is flexible in simulating the geometry and refractive index of particle aggregates. DDSCAT predicts a higher mass absorption coefficient (MAC), lower single scattering albedo (SSA), and higher absorption Angstrom exponent (AAE) for bare BC aggregates that are lacy rather than compact. Predicted values of SSA at 550 nm range between 0.16 and 0.27 for lacy and compact aggregates, respectively, in agreement with reported experimental values of 0.25 ± 0.05. The variation in absorption with wavelength does not adhere precisely to a power law relationship over the 200 to 1000 nm range. Consequently, AAE values depend on the wavelength region over which they are computed. The MAC of BC (averaged over the 200–1000 nm range) is amplified when internally mixed with NaCl (100–300 nm in radius) by factors ranging from 1.0 for lacy BC aggregates partially immersed in NaCl to 2.2 for compact BC aggregates fully immersed in NaCl. The SSA of BC internally mixed with NaCl is higher than for bare BC and increases with the embedding in the NaCl. Internally mixed BC SSA values decrease in the 200–400 nm wavelength range, a feature also common to the optical properties of dust and organics. Linear polarization features are also predicted in DDSCAT and are dependent on particle size and morphology.

This study shows that DDSCAT predicts complex morphology and mixing state dependent aerosol optical properties that have been reported previously and are relevant to radiative transfer, climate modeling, and interpretation of remote sensing measurements.

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