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.

2002
Ramanathan, V, Crutzen PJ, Mitra AP, Sikka D.  2002.  The Indian Ocean Experiment and the Asian brown cloud. Current Science. 83:947-955. AbstractWebsite

The Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX) was sponsored by research agencies within Europe, India and USA, and was mainly concerned with the haze over south Asia and the adjacent Indian Ocean. It excluded other equally or even more polluted areas in Asia. The Asian Brown Cloud is a follow-on international research project that includes all of Asia. The brown haze is a worldwide phenomenon and should not be assumed to be just an Indian or an Asian problem. UNEP had commissioned a panel in 2001 to provide an early assessment of the societal implications of INDOEX findings. The panel published its report(1) in August 2002 which was accompanied by a press release 2 prepared by UNEP. This article clarifies the scientific basis of the brown haze in response to a recent article by Srinivasan and Gadgil(3) (hereafter referred to as SG). The south Asian brown haze covers most of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the south Asian region. It occurs every year, and extends from about November to April and possibly longer. The black carbon and other species in the haze reduce the average radiative heating of the ocean by as much as 10% and enhance the atmospheric solar radiative heating by 50 to 100%. These findings are at variance with SG's perceptions that the haze occurs only during January to March, and that the aerosol forcing used by UNEP was unrealistically large because it used 1999 values and ignored IR effects of aerosols. INDOEX and UNEP did not rely just on 1999 values, but used data for 1996 to 1999, and also accounted for the compensating IR effects. The long duration of the haze, its black carbon content, the large perturbation to the radiative energy budget of the region and its simulated impact on the rainfall distribution, if proved correct, have significant implications to the regional water budget, agriculture and health. The link between anthropogenic aerosols and reduction of monsoonal rainfall in south Asia also has been made by over fifteen model studies preceding the UNEP report. We do not find any reason to modify the findings, the recommendations and the caveats in the UNEP report. The press release, while its direct quotes of the report are accurate, should have given more emphasis to the caveats in the report.

2000
Novakov, T, Andreae MO, Gabriel R, Kirchstetter TW, Mayol-Bracero OL, Ramanathan V.  2000.  Origin of carbonaceous aerosols over the tropical Indian Ocean: Biomass burning or fossil fuels? Geophysical Research Letters. 27:4061-4064.   10.1029/2000gl011759   AbstractWebsite

We present an analysis of the carbon, potassium and sulfate content of the extensive aerosol haze layer observed over the tropical Indian Ocean during the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX). The black carbon (BC) content of the haze is as high as 17% of the total fine particle mass (the sum of carbonaceous and soluble ionic aerosol components) which results in significant solar absorption. The ratio of black carbon to organic carbon (OC) lover the Arabian Sea and equatorial Indian Ocean) was a factor of 5 to 10 times larger than expected for biomass burning. This ratio was closer to values measured downwind of industrialized regions in Japan and Western Europe. These results indicate that fossil fuel combustion is the major source of carbonaceous aerosols, including black carbon during the events considered. If the data set analyzed here is representative of the entire INDOEX study then fossil fuel emissions from South Asia must have similarly contributed to aerosols over the whole study region. The INDOEX ratios are substantially different from those reported for some source regions of South Asia, thus raising the possibility that changes in composition of carbonaceous aerosol may occur during transport.