(BC)2 Project - Detecting events and seasonal trends in biomass burning plumes using black and brown carbon. This work is supported by TCEQ and in collaboration with Rebecca Sheesley, Jimmy Flynn and Yuxuan Wang. Data will be viewable via the Houston Network of Environmental Towers website (H-NET).
Through a collaboration with University of Houston and Baylor University, we will provide critical insight on the influence of biomass burning on the air quality in Houston and El Paso, TX through the characterization of black carbon (BC) and brown carbon (BrC). BrC is the carbon fraction of an aerosol that selectively absorbs short wavelengths of light. The (BC)2 field campaigns will include the deployment of the air quality trailers, which will be outfitted with a suite of specific technologies developed to assess biomass burning through the monitoring of BC and BrC. Biomass burning plumes will be identified using aerosol composition and light absorption properties, including BC and BrC concentrations, absorption Ångström exponents (AAE), and aerosol light absorption coefficients for specific ultraviolet (UV) and visible wavelengths. The newest technology for real-time monitoring of aerosol absorption is the Brechtel tricolor absorption photometer (TAP). The TAP measures adsorption at UV, green and red wavelengths to more specifically target biomass burning. This inexpensive and continuous photometer was designed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address issues with previous photometers, including cost, sensitivity, noise and effective scattering corrections. Although it was only recently available, Baylor and UH PIs have run this instrument successfully during the 2017 San Antonio field campaign (SAFS) in the Baylor air quality trailer (or the Mobile Air Quality Laboratory; MAQL 2). The two goals of (BC)2 El Paso are to 1) address scientific air quality questions of frequency, seasonality, and optical properties of biomass burning plumes in Houston and El Paso and 2) to evaluate the TAP instrument suite for application in long-term monitoring at urban sites in Texas.
(BC)2 Trailers houses two, three wavelength TAPs, a three wavelength nephelometer. Trace gases, including CO, are also housed in the trailer, or supported by a co-located TCEQ site.
Image of the multiple TAPs during a comparison study. A comparison study between the TAP was conducted to help assess comparability between the TAPs. The flow rate of each TAP is controlled using a mass flow controller. BC2 utilizes an Ecotech Aurora 3000 nephelometer to assess aerosol scattering.
(BC)2 combines real-time optical and trace gas measurements with high volume PM collection. PM collection can be triggered remotely using a computer interfaced with a Digitel DHA-80 PM sampler.