Quantifying the effects of mixing state on aerosol optical properties

Yu YAO, Jeffrey H. CURTIS, Ping Pui CHING, Zhonghua ZHENG, Nicole RIEMER

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Calculations of the aerosol direct effect on climate rely on simulated aerosol fields. The model representation of aerosol mixing state potentially introduces large uncertainties into these calculations, since the simulated aerosol optical properties are sensitive to mixing state. In this study, we systematically quantified the impact of aerosol mixing state on aerosol optical properties using an ensemble of 1800 aerosol populations from particle-resolved simulations as a basis for Mie calculations for optical properties. Assuming the aerosol to be internally mixed within prescribed size bins caused overestimations of aerosol absorptivity and underestimations of aerosol scattering. Together, these led to errors in the populations' single scattering albedo of up to -22.3% with a median of -0.9%. The mixing state metric χ proved useful in relating errors in the volume absorption coefficient, the volume scattering coefficient and the single scattering albedo to the degree of internally mixing of the aerosol, with larger errors being associated with more external mixtures. At the same time, a range of errors existed for any given value of χ. We attributed this range to the extent to which the internal mixture assumption distorted the particles' black carbon content and the refractive index of the particle coatings. Both can vary for populations with the same value of χ. These results are further evidence of the important yet complicated role of mixing state in calculating aerosol optical properties. Copyright © 2022 Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9265-9282
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


Yao, Y., Curtis, J. H., Ching, J., Zheng, Z., & Riemer, N. (2022). Quantifying the effects of mixing state on aerosol optical properties. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 22(14), 9265-9282. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-22-9265-2022


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