Measurements of smoke aerosol humidification factors were performed in a laboratory for different biomass fuel types and burn conditions. Two nephelometers simultaneously measured dry and humidified light scattering coefficients (bsp(dry) and bsp(RH), respectively), providing the first observations of the temporal evolution of the humidification factor (f(RH) = bsp(RH)/bsp(dry)) for fresh (minutes-old) smoke. Hygroscopic characteristics of the smoke aerosols varied with fuel type and fire conditions, with the mean f(RH) ranging from 1.01 to 1.95 for fresh minutes-old smoke for the relative humidity (RH) range of 70-94%. These f(RH) values exhibited temporal variability, with some fuels alternating from hygroscopic to nonhygroscopic within minutes. Humidograms were also obtained, demonstrating that smoke from different fuels begins to take up water at different RH values. Humidification factors for hour-old smoke ranged from 1.10 to 1.51 for RH > 90%. Finally, light-absorbing carbon mass measured with a multiwavelength aethalometer demonstrated different spectral responses as a function of fuel type. These laboratory experiments demonstrate the complexity of smoke hygroscopicity from young fires and are essential for understanding the radiative effects of biomass burning in the ambient atmosphere.


Materials Science and Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Biomass Smoke; Humidification Factor

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2006 Wiley-Blackwell, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2006