Constraining aerosol optical models using ground-based, collocated particle size and mass measurements in variable air mass regimes during the 7-SEAS/Dongsha experiment

Shaun W. Bell, Richard A. Hansell, Judith C. Chow, Si Chee Tsay, N. Christina Hsu, Neng Huei Lin, Sheng Hsiang Wang, Qiang Ji, Can Li, John G. Watson, Andrey Khlystov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


During the spring of 2010, NASA Goddard's COMMIT ground-based mobile laboratory was stationed on Dongsha Island off the southwest coast of Taiwan, in preparation for the upcoming 2012 7-SEAS field campaign. The measurement period offered a unique opportunity for conducting detailed investigations of the optical properties of aerosols associated with different air mass regimes including background maritime and those contaminated by anthropogenic air pollution and mineral dust. What appears to be the first time for this region, a shortwave optical closure experiment (λ=550nm) for both scattering and absorption was attempted over a 12-day period during which aerosols exhibited the most change. Constraints to the optical model included combined SMPS and APS number concentration data for a continuum of fine and coarse-mode particle sizes up to PM2.5. We also take advantage of an IMPROVE chemical sampler to help constrain aerosol composition and mass partitioning of key elemental species including sea-salt, particulate organic matter, soil, non sea-salt sulfate, nitrate, and elemental carbon. Achieving full optical closure is hampered by limitations in accounting for the role of water vapor in the system, uncertainties in the instruments and the need for further knowledge in the source apportionment of the model's major chemical components. Nonetheless, our results demonstrate that the observed aerosol scattering and absorption for these diverse air masses are reasonably captured by the model, where peak aerosol events and transitions between key aerosols types are evident. Signatures of heavy polluted aerosol composed mostly of ammonium and non sea-salt sulfate mixed with some dust with transitions to background sea-salt conditions are apparent in the absorption data, which is particularly reassuring owing to the large variability in the imaginary component of the refractive indices. Consistency between the measured and modeled optical parameters serves as an important link for advancing remote sensing and climate research studies in dynamic aerosol-rich environments like Dongsha.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-173
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Absorption
  • Aerosols
  • Scattering


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