A new study has been published on the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics – an interactive open-access journal of the European Geoscience Union.
Ambient aerosol particles can take up water and thus change their optical properties depending on the hygroscopicity and the relative humidity (RH) of the surrounding air. Knowledge of the hygroscopicity effect is of crucial importance for radiative forcing calculations and is also needed for the comparison or validation of remote sensing or model results with in situ measurements. Specifically, particle light scattering depends on RH and can be described by the scattering enhancement factor f(RH), which is defined as the particle light scattering coefficient at defined RH divided by its dry value (RH <30–40 %).
The paper presents results of an intensive field campaign carried out in summer 2013 at the SMEAR II station at Hyytiälä, Finland. Ground-based and airborne measurements of aerosol optical, chemical and microphysical properties were conducted. The f(RH) measured at ground level by a humidified nephelometer is found to be generally lower (e.g. 1.63±0.22 at RH = 85 % and λ = 525 nm) than observed at other European sites. One reason is the high organic mass fraction of the aerosol encountered at Hyytiälä to which f(RH) is clearly anti-correlated (R2≈0.8). A simplified parametrization of f(RH) based on the measured chemical mass fraction can therefore be derived for this aerosol type. A trajectory analysis revealed that elevated values of f(RH) and the corresponding elevated inorganic mass fraction are partially caused by transported hygroscopic sea spray particles. An optical closure study shows the consistency of the ground-based in situ measurements.