Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Physics (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Physics

Advisor 1

Claudio Mazzoleni

Committee Member 1

Raymond Shaw

Committee Member 2

Xin Xi


Human-induced climate change has steadily become a reality rather than a possibility. One factor that plays into climate change is radiative forcing due to aerosol-radiation interactions (ARI). As such, it is important to understand how aerosols (atmospheric particles) interact with solar radiation. This work looks at seven samples of well-aged aerosols (aerosols traveling in the atmosphere for at least a few days) collected at Pico Mountain Observatory in the summer of 2015. Pico Mountain Observatory is located in a remote, high elevation site in the Azores, in the Eastern-North Atlantic Ocean. The goals of the study were to analyze the physicochemical properties of these atmospheric particles and to unravel potential relations with their radiative properties.

From single particle analysis, it was found that all samples contained predominantly carbon-based aerosols, with smaller amounts of sea salt and mineral dust observed in some samples. Modeled atmospheric transport paths indicated most sampled particles came from North America with long transport times. The particles in all samples were internally mixed, further supporting the expectation and modeling findings that the sampled particles were well-aged.

Two selected samples, one dominated by biomass burning, and a second affected by mineral dust, were compared in more detail. Radiative forcing calculations have been performed for the particles collected during two events. The calculations were performed for two scenarios with different reflectances of the surfaces underneath: clear sky ocean and clouds. It was found that there is potential cooling over areas of low albedo, such as the clear sky ocean, and potential warming over areas of high albedo, such as above clouds.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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