Intercomparison of biomass burning aerosol optical properties from in situ and remote-sensing instruments in ORACLES-2016

Kristina Pistone*, Jens Redemann, Sarah Doherty, Paquita Zuidema, Sharon Burton, Brian Cairns, Sabrina Cochrane, Richard Ferrare, Connor Flynn, Steffen Freitag, Steven G. Howell, Meloë Kacenelenbogen, Samuel Leblanc, Xu Liu, K. Sebastian Schmidt, Arthur J.Sedlacek Iii, Michal Segal-Rozenhaimer, Yohei Shinozuka, Snorre Stamnes, Bastiaan Van DiedenhovenGerard Van Harten, Feng Xu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The total effect of aerosols, both directly and on cloud properties, remains the biggest source of uncertainty in anthropogenic radiative forcing on the climate. Correct characterization of intensive aerosol optical properties, particularly in conditions where absorbing aerosol is present, is a crucial factor in quantifying these effects. The southeast Atlantic Ocean (SEA), with seasonal biomass burning smoke plumes overlying and mixing with a persistent stratocumulus cloud deck, offers an excellent natural laboratory to make the observations necessary to understand the complexities of aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions. The first field deployment of the NASA ORACLES (ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS) campaign was conducted in September of 2016 out of Walvis Bay, Namibia. Data collected during ORACLES-2016 are used to derive aerosol properties from an unprecedented number of simultaneous measurement techniques over this region. Here, we present results from six of the eight independent instruments or instrument combinations, all applied to measure or retrieve aerosol absorption and single-scattering albedo. Most but not all of the biomass burning aerosol was located in the free troposphere, in relative humidities typically ranging up to 60 %. We present the single-scattering albedo (SSA), absorbing and total aerosol optical depth (AAOD and AOD), and absorption, scattering, and extinction Ångström exponents (AAE, SAE, and EAE, respectively) for specific case studies looking at near-coincident and near-colocated measurements from multiple instruments, and SSAs for the broader campaign average over the month-long deployment. For the case studies, we find that SSA agrees within the measurement uncertainties between multiple instruments, though, over all cases, there is no strong correlation between values reported by one instrument and another. We also find that agreement between the instruments is more robust at higher aerosol loading (AOD400 > 0:4). The campaign-wide average and range shows differences in the values measured by each instrument. We find the ORACLES-2016 campaign-average SSA at 500 nm (SSA500) to be between 0.85 and 0.88, depending on the instrument considered (4STAR, AirMSPI, or in situ measurements), with the interquartile ranges for all instruments between 0.83 and 0.89. This is consistent with previous September values reported over the region (between 0.84 and 0.90 for SSA at 550nm). The results suggest that the differences observed in the campaign-average values may be dominated by instrument-specific spatial sampling differences and the natural physical variability in aerosol conditions over the SEA, rather than fundamental methodological differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9181-9208
Number of pages28
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 18 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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