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Atmospheric Sciences


We present the evolution of multispectral optical properties through urban aerosols that have aged and interacted with biogenic emissions, resulting in stronger short wavelength absorption and the formation of moderately brown secondary organic aerosols. Ground-based aerosol measurements were made in June 2010 within the Sacramento urban area (site T0) and at a 40-km downwind location (site T1) in the forested Sierra Nevada foothills area. Data on black carbon (BC) and non-refractory aerosol mass and composition were collected at both sites. In addition, photoacoustic (PA) instruments with integrating nephelometers were used to measure spectral absorption and scattering coefficients for wavelengths ranging from 355 to 870 nm. The daytime absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) indicated a modest wavelength-dependent enhancement of absorption at both sites throughout the study. From 22 to 28 June 2010, secondary organic aerosol mass increased significantly at both sites, which was due to increased biogenic emissions coupled with intense photochemical activity and air mass recirculation in the area. During this period, the median BC mass-normalized absorption cross-section (MAC) values for 405 nm and 532 nm at T1 increased by ~23% and ~35%, respectively, compared with the relatively less aged urban emissions at the T0 site. In contrast, the average MAC values for the 870 nm wavelength were similar for both sites. These results suggest the formation of moderately brown secondary organic aerosols in biogenically-influenced urban air.

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© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

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


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