Publications

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2019
Chen, SJ, Russell LM, Cappa CD, Zhang XL, Kleeman MJ, Kumar A, Liu D, Ramanathana V.  2019.  Comparing black and brown carbon absorption from AERONET and surface measurements at wintertime Fresno. Atmospheric Environment. 199:164-176.   10.1016/j.atmosenv.2018.11.032   AbstractWebsite

The radiative impacts of black carbon (BC) and brown carbon (BrC) are widely recognized but remain highly uncertain. The Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) provides measurements of aerosol optical depth (AOD), aerosol absorption optical depth (AAOD), and other parameters. AERONET AAOD measurements have been used to estimate the relative contributions of BC and BrC to the total absorption at select sites and have the potential to be used across the global network, but the accuracy of the partitioning method has not been established and the uncertainties not characterized. We made surface-level measurements of aerosol optical properties from January 13 to February 10, 2013, and from December 25, 2014, to January 13, 2015, at Fresno, California. The contribution of BrC and BC to the absorption at 405 nm was estimated from the surface-level measurements using a combined mass absorption coefficient and thermodenuder method. The surface-level measurements were compared with BC and BrC absorption at 440 nm estimated from AERONET measurements of the absolute AAOD and the absorption angstrom ngstrom exponent (AERONET-AAE method). In 2013, AERONET results showed that BC and BrC contributed 67% and 33%, respectively, of absorption at 440 nm while the surface-level measurements showed that BC and BrC contributed 89% and 11%, respectively, of absorption at 405 nm. In 2014, AERONET results showed BC and BrC absorption were 72% and 28%, respectively, and the BC and BrC surface measurements were 68% and 32%, respectively. The boundary layer conditions showed that the comparison between AERONET measurements and surface-based estimates was more appropriate in 2014 than in 2013. As a result, AERONET measurements and surface-based estimates had strong or moderate correlations and slopes near unity in 2014. Thus, surface measurements were more representative of column BC and BrC absorption in 2014.

2012
Kar, A, Rehman IH, Burney J, Puppala SP, Suresh R, Singh L, Singh VK, Ahmed T, Ramanathan N, Ramanathan V.  2012.  Real-time assessment of black carbon pollution in Indian households due to traditional and improved biomass cookstoves. Environmental Science & Technology. 46:2993-3000.   10.1021/es203388g   AbstractWebsite

Use of improved (biomass) cookstoves (ICs) has been widely proposed as a Black Carbon (BC) mitigation measure with significant climate and health benefits. ICs encompass a range of technologies, including natural draft (ND) stoves, which feature structural modifications to enhance air flow, and forced draft (FD) stoves, which additionally employ an external fan to force air into the combustion chamber. We present here, under Project Surya, the first real-time in situ Black Carbon (BC) concentration measurements from five commercial ICs and a traditional (mud) cookstove for comparison. These experiments reveal four significant findings about the tested stoves. First, FD stoves emerge as the superior IC technology, reducing plume zone BC concentration by a factor of 4 (compared to 1.5 for ND). Indoor cooking-time BC concentrations, which varied from 50 to 1000 mu g m(-3) for the traditional mud cookstove, were reduced to 5-100 mu g m(-3) by the top-performing FD stove. Second, BC reductions from IC models in the same technology category vary significantly: for example, some ND models occasionally emit more BC than a traditional cookstove. Within the ND class, only microgasification stoves were effective in reducing BC. Third, BC concentration varies significantly for repeated cooking cycles with same stove (standard deviation up to 50% of mean concentration) even in a standardized setup, highlighting inherent uncertainties in cookstove performance. Fourth, use of mixed fuel (reflective of local practices) increases plume zone BC concentration (compared to hardwood) by a factor of 2 to 3 across ICs.

2011
Rehman, IH, Ahmed T, Praveen PS, Kar A, Ramanathan V.  2011.  Black carbon emissions from biomass and fossil fuels in rural India. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 11:7289-7299.   10.5194/acp-11-7289-2011   AbstractWebsite

Black carbon (BC) emission from biofuel cooking in South Asia and its radiative forcing is a significant source of uncertainty for health and climate impact studies. Quantification of BC emissions in the published literature is either based on laboratory or remote field observations far away from the source. For the first time under Project Surya, we use field measurements taken simultaneously inside rural households, ambient air and vehicular emissions from highways in a rural area in the Indo-Gangetic-Plains region of India to establish the role of both solid biomass based cooking in traditional stoves and diesel vehicles in contributing to high BC and organic carbon (OC), and solar absorption. The major finding of this study is that BC concentrations during cooking hours, both indoors and outdoors, have anomalously large twice-daily peak concentrations reaching 60 mu g m(-3) (median 15-min average value) for indoor and 30 mu g m(-3) (median 15-min average value) for outdoor during the early morning (05:00 to 08:00) and early evening (17:00 to 19:00) hours coinciding with the morning and evening cooking hours. The BC during the non-cooking hours were also large, in the range of 2 to 30 mu g m(-3). The peak indoor BC concentrations reached as high as 1000 mu g m(-3). The large diurnal peaks seen in this study lead to the conclusion that satellite based aerosol studies that rely on once-daily daytime measurements may severely underestimate the BC loading of the atmosphere. The concentration of OC was a factor of 5 larger than BC and furthermore optical data show that absorbing brown carbon was a major component of the OC. The imprint of the cooking hour peaks were seen in the outdoor BC both in the village as well as in the highway. The results have significant implications for climate and epidemiological studies.

2004
Di Girolamo, L, Bond TC, Bramer D, Diner DJ, Fettinger F, Kahn RA, Martonchik JV, Ramana MV, Ramanathan V, Rasch PJ.  2004.  Analysis of Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) aerosol optical depths over greater India during winter 2001-2004. Geophysical Research Letters. 31   10.1029/2004gl021273   AbstractWebsite

We present the first detailed spatial analysis of a four-year, wintertime visible aerosol optical depth (AOD) climatology from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) over greater India. Meteorological fields from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis, topographic data, and information related to aerosol source regions are used to explain the spatial patterns in MISR AODs. High AODs are found over much of greater India. The highest AODs are over the northern Indian state of Bihar, where we show that meteorology, topography, and aerosol sources all favor development of a concentrated pool of airborne particles. MISR AODs are validated against five ground-based sites in India and Nepal, revealing similar error characteristics found in other validation studies for the MISR aerosol product.