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Open Access A New Method for Retrieving Particle Refractive Index and Effective Density from Aerosol Size Distribution Data

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As part of the Big Bend Regional Aerosol Visibility and Observation study (BRAVO) in July–October 1999, dry aerosol size distributions were measured over the size range of 0.05 < Dp < 20 m using a TSI differential mobility analyzer (DMA), a PMS LASAIR 1003 optical particle counter (OPC), and a TSI aerodynamic particle sizer 3320 (APS). Extensive calibrations were performed to characterize the response of the OPC and APS to particles of different size and composition. This paper describes a new method that was developed to align size distributions in the instrument overlap regions, allowing for the retrieval of aerosol real refractive index and effective density. To validate the method, retrieved particle real refractive index was compared with volumeweighted model estimates based on measured PM2.5 chemical composition. The study average retrieved real refractive index was mr = 1.566 ± 0.012, and the average computed PM2.5 refractive index was mr = 1.56 ± 0.02; the agreement is well within experimental uncertainties. The average value of computed PM2.5 bulk density was 1.85 ± 0.14 g cm-3. The average value of retrieved effective density, a function of particle dynamic shape factor, was 1.56 ± 0.12 g cm-3. The comparisons of effective density to computed bulk density suggested an average particle dynamic shape factor of  = 1.2. Sensitivity studies showed that real refractive index could be retrieved with uncertainties on the order of 2–3%, and effective density was retrieved with uncertainties on the order of 20–30%.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2002

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