Light absorption properties and radiative effects of primary organic aerosol emissions

Zifeng Lu, David G. Streets, Ekbordin Winijkul, Fang Yan, Yanju Chen, Tami C. Bond, Yan Feng, Manvendra K. Dubey, Shang Liu, Joseph P. Pinto, Gregory R. Carmichael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organic aerosols (OAs) in the atmosphere affect Earths energy budget by not only scattering but also absorbing solar radiation due to the presence of the so-called "brown carbon" (BrC) component. However, the absorptivities of OAs are not represented or are poorly represented in current climate and chemical transport models. In this study, we provide a method to constrain the BrC absorptivity at the emission inventory level using recent laboratory and field observations. We review available measurements of the light-absorbing primary OA (POA), and quantify the wavelength-dependent imaginary refractive indices (kOA, the fundamental optical parameter determining the particles absorptivity) and their uncertainties for the bulk POA emitted from biomass/biofuel, lignite, propane, and oil combustion sources. In particular, we parametrize the kOA of biomass/biofuel combustion sources as a function of the black carbon (BC)-to-OA ratio, indicating that the absorptive properties of POA depend strongly on burning conditions. The derived fuel-type-based kOA profiles are incorporated into a global carbonaceous aerosol emission inventory, and the integrated kOA values of sectoral and total POA emissions are presented. Results of a simple radiative transfer model show that the POA absorptivity warms the atmosphere significantly and leads to ∼27% reduction in the amount of the net global average POA cooling compared to results from the nonabsorbing assumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4868-4877
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 21 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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