Intercomparison of photoacoustic and thermal-optical methods for the measurement of atmospheric elemental carbon

Barbara J. Turpin, James J. Huntzicker, Karen M. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Two atmospheric elemental carbon measurement methods based on different analytical principles have been compared using data collected during the summer of 1987 at the Claremont, California site of the Southern California Air Quality Study (SCAQS). An optical absorption method, photoacoustic spectroscopy, measured the visible light absorption (γ = 514.5 nm) of atmospheric elemental carbon in its natural aerosol-state in real time. Elemental carbon concentrations were obtained by applying the appropriate value of the absorption cross-section for elemental carbon to the optical absorption data. The other method was a thermal-optical technique, which measures elemental and organic carbon concentrations on a filte--collected sample by combustion and corrects for the pyrolytic conversion of organic to elemental carbon by measuring the transmittance of laser light through the sample. Aerosol was collected on a filter mounted inside the carbon analyzer and analyzed in place. A 2-h collection and analysis cycle was used. The real-time photoacoustic data integrated over ∼100 min were compared with thermal-optical data. The two methods compare quite well. The linear least squares fit gave a correlation coefficient of R=0.905, and no significant difference was seen between the two data sets at the 95% confidence level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1831-1835
Number of pages5
JournalAtmospheric Environment Part A, General Topics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1990


  • Elemental carbon
  • aerosol instrumentation
  • carbonaceous aerosol
  • photoacoustic
  • thermal-optical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Intercomparison of photoacoustic and thermal-optical methods for the measurement of atmospheric elemental carbon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this