, Volume 406, Issue 1, pp 99-122,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Dec 2013

Characterizing elemental, equivalent black, and refractory black carbon aerosol particles: a review of techniques, their limitations and uncertainties


Elemental-, equivalent black- and refractory black-carbon are terms that have been defined in order to dissect the more general term, black carbon, into its component parts related to its specific chemical and optical properties and its impact on climate and health. Recent publications have attempted to clarify the meaning of these terms with respect to their environmental impact, particularly on climate. Here, we focus on the measurement aspects, reviewing the most commonly implemented techniques for the direct and indirect derivation of black carbon properties, their strengths, limitations, and uncertainties, and provide a non-exhaustive bibliography where the reader can find more detailed information. This review paper is designed as a guide for those wishing to learn about the current state of black carbon measurement instrumentation, how calibration is carried out, when one instrument may have the advantage over another, and where new techniques are needed to fill important knowledge gaps.

Published in the special paper collection Analytical Chemistry Related to Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability with guest editors Richard J. C. Brown and Carlos A. Gonzalez.