Individual aerosol particles from biomass burning in southern Africa: 2. Compositions and aging of inorganic particles

Jia Li, Mihály Pósfai, Peter V. Hobbs, P R Buseck

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408 Scopus citations


Individual aerosol particles collected over southern Africa during the SAFARI 2000 field study were studied using transmission electron microscopy and field-emission scanning electron microscopy. The sizes, shapes, compositions, mixing states, surface coatings, and relative abundances of aerosol particles from biomass burning, in boundary layer hazes, and in the free troposphere were compared, with emphasis on aging and reactions of inorganic smoke particles. Potassium salts and organic particles were the predominant species in the smoke, and most were internally mixed. More KCl particles occur in young smoke, whereas more K2SO4 and KNO3 particles were present in aged smoke. This change indicates that with the aging of the smoke, KCl particles from the fires were converted to K2SO4 and KNO3 through reactions with sulfur- and nitrogen-bearing species from biomass burning as well as other sources. More soot was present in smoke from flaming grass fires than bush and wood fires, probably due to the predominance of flaming combustion in grass fires. The high abundance of organic particles and soluble salts can affect the hygroscopic properties of biomass-burning aerosols and therefore influence their role as cloud condensation nuclei. Particles from biomass burning were important constituents of the regional hazes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)SAF 20-1 - SAF 20-12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2003


  • Aging of smoke
  • Biomass burning
  • Individual particle analysis
  • Potassium salt
  • SAFARI 2000
  • Tar balls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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