National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2005

Modification, calibration and a field test of an instrument for measuring light absorption by particles

Virkkula, A., N.C. Ahlquist, D.S. Covert, W.P. Arnott, P.J. Sheridan, P.K. Quinn, and D.J. Coffman

Aerosol Sci. Technol., 39(1), 68–73, doi: 10.1080/027868290901963 (2005)

A filter-based single-wavelength photometer (Particle Soot Absorption Photometer, PSAP) for measuring light absorption by aerosols was modified to measure at three wavelengths, 467 nm, 530 nm, and 660 nm. The modified and an unmodified photometer were calibrated during the Reno Aerosol Optics Study (RAOS) 2002 against two absorption standards: a photoacoustic instrument and the difference between the extinction and scattering coefficient. This filter-based absorption method has to be corrected for scattering aerosol and transmission changes. A simple function for this was derived from the calibration experiment as a function of transmission and single-scattering albedo. For an unmodified PSAP at typical atmospheric absorption coefficients the algorithm yields about 5–7% lower absorption coefficients than does the usually used method. The three-wavelength PSAP was used for atmospheric measurements both during RAOS and during the New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS).

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