Black and brown carbon over central Amazonia: long-term aerosol measurements at the ATTO site

El carbono negro
sobre el Amazonas
no sólo proviene de Sudamérica
Black carbon
Atmospheric aerosols
Amazon rainforest
Brown carbon

Jorge Saturno

Bruna A Holanda

Christopher Pöhlker

Florian Ditas

Qiaoqiao Wang

Daniel Moran-Zuloaga

Joel Brito

Samara Carbone

Yafang Cheng

Xuguang Chi

Jeannine Ditas

Thorsten Hoffmann

Isabella Hrabe de Angelis

Tobias Könemann

Jošt V. Lavrič

Nan Ma

Jing Ming

Hauke Paulsen

Mira L Pöhlker

Luciana V Rizzo

Patrick Schlag

Hang Su

David Walter

Stefan Wolff

Yuxuan Zhang

Paulo Artaxo

Ulrich Pöschl

Meinrat O. Andreae

Fecha de publicación

septiembre 2018

Otros detalles

The first BC long-term time series measured at the ATTO site.


The Amazon rainforest is a sensitive ecosystem experiencing the combined pressures of progressing deforestation and climate change. Its atmospheric conditions oscillate between biogenic and biomass burning (BB) dominated states. The Amazon further represents one of the few remaining continental places where the atmosphere approaches pristine conditions during occasional wet season episodes. The Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) has been established in central Amazonia to investigate the complex interactions between the rainforest ecosystem and the atmosphere. Physical and chemical aerosol properties have been analyzed continuously since 2012. This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the aerosol’s optical properties at ATTO based on data from 2012 to 2017. The following key results have been obtained. – The aerosol scattering and absorption coefficients at 637nm, \(\sigma\)sp,637 and \(\sigma\)ap,637, show a pronounced seasonality with lowest values in the clean wet season (mean±SD: \(\sigma\)sp,637 = 7.5±9.3Mm−1; \(\sigma\)ap,637 = 0.68±0.91Mm−1) and highest values in the BB-polluted dry season (\(\sigma\)sp,637 = 33±25Mm−1; \(\sigma\)ap,637 = 4.0±2.2Mm−1). The single scattering albedo at 637nm is lowest during the dry season (0.87±0.03) and highest during the wet season (0.93±0.04). – The retrieved BC mass absorption cross sections, \(\alpha\)abs, are substantially higher than values widely used in the literature (i.e., 6.6m2g−1 at 637nm wavelength), likely related to thick organic or inorganic coatings on the BC cores. Wet season values of \(\alpha\)abs = 11.4±1.2m2g−1 (637nm) and dry season values of \(\alpha\)abs = 12.3±1.3m2g−1 (637nm) were obtained. – The BB aerosol during the dry season is a mixture of rather fresh smoke from local fires, somewhat aged smoke from regional fires, and strongly aged smoke from African fires. The African influence appears to be substantial, with its maximum from August to October. The interplay of African vs. South American BB emissions determines the aerosol optical properties (e.g., the fractions of black vs. brown carbon, BC vs. BrC). – By analyzing the diel cycles, it was found that particles from elevated aerosol-rich layers are mixed down to the canopy level in the early morning and particle number concentrations decrease towards the end of the day. Brown carbon absorption at 370nm, \(\sigma\)ap,BrC,370, was found to decrease earlier in the day, likely due to photo-oxidative processes. – BC-to-CO enhancement ratios, ERBC, reflect the variability of burnt fuels, combustion phases, and atmospheric removal processes. A wide range of ERBC between 4 and 15ngm−3ppb−1 was observed with higher values during the dry season, corresponding to the lowest SSA levels (0.86–0.93). – The influence of the 2009/2010 and 2015/2016 El Niño periods and the associated increased fire activity on aerosol optical properties was analyzed by means of 9-year \(\sigma\)sp and \(\sigma\)ap time series (combination of ATTO and ZF2 data). Significant El Niño-related enhancements were observed: in the dry season, \(\sigma\)sp,637 increased from 24±18 to 48±33Mm−1 and \(\sigma\)ap, 637 from 3.8±2.8 to 5.3±2.5Mm−1. – The absorption Ångström exponent, åabs, representing the aerosol absorption wavelength dependence, was mostly 1.0 with episodic increases upon smoke advection. A parameterization of åabs as a function of the BC-to-OA mass ratio for Amazonian aerosol ambient measurements is presented. The brown carbon (BrC) contribution to \(\sigma\)ap at 370nm was obtained by calculating the theoretical BC åabs, resulting in BrC contributions of 17%–29% (25th and 75th percentiles) to \(\sigma\)ap 370 for the entire measurement period. The BrC contribution increased to 27%–47% during fire events under El Niño-related drought conditions from September to November 2015. The results presented here may serve as a basis to understand Amazonian atmospheric aerosols in terms of their interactions with solar radiation and the physical and chemical-aging processes that they undergo during transport. Additionally, the analyzed aerosol properties during the last two El Niño periods in 2009/2010 and 2015/2016 offer insights that could help to assess the climate change-related potential for forest-dieback feedbacks under warmer and drier conditions.


 author = {Saturno, Jorge and Holanda, Bruna A and Pöhlker, Christopher and Ditas, Florian and Wang, Qiaoqiao and Moran-Zuloaga, Daniel and Brito, Joel and Carbone, Samara and Cheng, Yafang and Chi, Xuguang and Ditas, Jeannine and Hoffmann, Thorsten and Hrabe de Angelis, Isabella and Könemann, Tobias and Lavrič, Jošt V. and Ma, Nan and Ming, Jing and Paulsen, Hauke and Pöhlker, Mira L and Rizzo, Luciana V and Schlag, Patrick and Su, Hang and Walter, David and Wolff, Stefan and Zhang, Yuxuan and Artaxo, Paulo and Pöschl, Ulrich and Andreae, Meinrat O.},
 doi = {10.5194/acp-18-12817-2018},
 issn = {1680-7324},
 journal = {Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics},
 month = {sep},
 number = {17},
 pages = {12817--12843},
 title = {Black and brown carbon over central Amazonia: long-term aerosol measurements at the ATTO site},
 url = {},
 volume = {18},
 year = {2018}