Aerosol particle chemical characteristics measured from aircraft in the lower troposphere during ACE-2

Martina Schmeling, Lynn M. Russell*, Carynelisa Erlick, Donald R. Collins, Haflidi Jonsson, Qing Wang, Peter Kregsamer, Christina Streli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


During the Aerosol Characterization Experiment (ACE-2), filter samples were collected aboard the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Pelican aircraft near Tenerife in June and July of 1997. The flights included constant altitude measurements in the boundary layer as well as profiles up to 3800 m providing detailed chemical information about the composition of the aerosol distribution in the lower troposphere. Three cases with different air mass origins - clean marine air, anthropogenically-influenced air from the European continent, and dust-laden air from the Sahara - were identified. The samples were analyzed by ion chromatography (IC) for ionic species, by combined thermal and optical analysis (TOA) for organic carbon, and by total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) for elemental composition. Particle composition and size distributions for the range of air masses encountered illustrate links in the chemical and microphysical characteristics of aerosol from different sources. Clean marine air masses were characterized by low particle number and mass concentrations with no detectable metals, while anthropogenically-influenced and dust-laden air had high number, mass, and trace metal concentrations. Anthropogenic sources were characterized by high concentrations of submicron particles and some Fe and Cu, whereas dust particle loadings included a significant mass of micron-sized particles and significant loadings of Fe, in addition to small amounts of Mn, Cu, and Ni. These results showed similar tracers for air mass origin as those found in other measurements of oceanic and continental air masses. Aerosol optical properties were estimated with a simplified model of the aerosol based on the measured compositions. The real and imaginary refractive indices and single scattering albedos differed significantly among the three types of aerosol measured, with clean marine aerosol properties showing the least absorption and dust-containing aerosols showing the most. There were only small differences in optical properties for the two different cases of clean marine aerosol, but some significant differences between the two dust cases. Since measurement uncertainties affect these calculations, we studied the type of mixing and the fraction of absorbing species and found the calculation was sensitive to these variations only for the dust-containing aerosol case, probably due to the small amount of water present. While the optical properties varied little with composition for clean marine and anthropogenically-influenced cases, they showed a strong dependence on variations in particle composition and mixing state for the dust-containing cases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)185-200
Number of pages16
JournalTellus, Series B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes


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