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Open Access Study of Visibility Degradation Due to Coagulation, Condensation, and Gravitational Settling of the Atmospheric Aerosol

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This work studies the evolution in time of the light extinction coefficients of the single-component spherical aerosols after a given mechanism of removal (coagulation, heterogeneous nucleation, and gravitational settling) as a function of time. The well-known equations of scavenging are applied to 3 atmospheric environments (clear, hazy, and urban) that represent the aerosol particle size distributions (PSDs) in the countryside, the industry, and the city, respectively. The aerosol scattering and absorption coefficients are determined from the single particle light extinction efficients, Ks (m, p) and Ka (m, p), where m is the complex refractive index of each particle and p = Dp/, the dimensionless parameter relating the particle diameter Dp to the wavelength  of the incident light. The single particle light extinction efficiences Ks and Ka can be derived theoretically by Mie's solution to Maxwell's equations (van de Hulst 1981; Kerker 1969). From this study it is inferred that gravitational settling predominates with respect to coagulation and condensation since the visual range is increased considerably. Besides, gravitational settling is the main mechanism for removal of respirable aerosol in comparison to condensation and coagulation and is close to 6 times better than rainout (García Nieto et al. 1994).

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02786820290092069

Publication date: July 1, 2002

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