11 Oct 2022
11 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Aerosol deposition to the boreal forest in the vicinity of the Alberta Oil Sands

Timothy Jiang1,a, Mark Gordon1, Paul A. Makar2, Ralf M. Staebler2, and Michael Wheeler2 Timothy Jiang et al.
  • 1Earth and Space Science, York University, Toronto, M3J 1P3, Canada
  • 2Air Quality Research Department, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, M3H 5T4, Canada
  • anow at: School of Environmental Studies, Guelph University, Guelph, N1G 2W1, Canada

Abstract. Measurements of size-resolved aerosol concentration and fluxes were made in a forest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) of Alberta, Canada in August 2021 with the aim of investigating a) particle size distributions from different sources, b) size-resolved particle deposition velocities, and c) the rate of vertical mixing in the canopy. Particle size distributions were attributed to different sources determined by wind direction. Background air from undeveloped forested areas air showed a peak number concentration for diameters near 70 nm while air mixed with upgrader smokestack plumes had higher number concentrations with peak number between diameters of 70 and 80 nm. Aerosols from the direction of open-pit mine faces showed number concentration peaks near 150 nm and volume distribution peaks near 250 nm (with secondary peaks near 600 nm). Size-resolved deposition fluxes were calculated which show good agreement with previous measurements and a recent parameterization. There is a minimum deposition velocity of vd  = 0.02 cm s-1 for particles of 80 nm diameter; however, there is a large amount of variation in the measurements and this value is not significantly different from zero in the 68 % confidence interval. Finally, gradient measurements of PM1 demonstrated nighttime decoupling of air within and above the forest canopy, with median lag times at night of up to 40 min, and lag times between 2 and 5 min during the day. PM1 fluxes determined using flux/gradient methods (with different diffusion parameterizations) underestimate the flux magnitude relative to eddy covariance flux measurements when averaged over the nearly 1-month measurement period. However, there is significant uncertainty in the averages determined using the flux/gradient method.

Timothy Jiang et al.

Status: open (until 23 Dec 2022)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-656', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Nov 2022 reply

Timothy Jiang et al.

Timothy Jiang et al.


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Short summary
Measurements of sub-micron aerosols (small particles of size less than 1/1000 of a mm) were made in a forest downwind of oil sands mining and production facilities in northern Alberta. These measurements tell us how quickly aerosols are absorbed by the forest (known as deposition rate) and how the deposition rate depends on the size of the aerosol. The measurements show good agreement with a parameterization developed from a recent study for deposition of aerosols to a similar pine forest.