Updated correlation between aircraft smoke number and black carbon concentration

Marc E J Stettler, Jacob J. Swanson, Steven R H Barrett, Adam M. Boies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Aircraft emissions of black carbon (BC) contribute to anthropogenic climate forcing and degrade air quality. The smoke number (SN) is the current regulatory measure of aircraft particulate matter emissions and quantifies exhaust plume visibility. Several correlations between SN and the exhaust mass concentration of BC (CBC) have been developed, based on measurements relevant to older aircraft engines. These form the basis of the current standard method used to estimate aircraft BC emissions (First Order Approximation version 3 [FOA3]) for the purposes of environmental impact analyses. In this study, BC with a geometric mean diameter (GMD) of 20, 30, and 60 nm and filter diameters of 19 and 35 mm are used to investigate the effect of particle size and sampling variability on SN measurements. For BC with 20 and 30 nm GMD, corresponding to BC emitted by modern aircraft engines, a smaller SN results from a given CBC than is the case for BC with 60 nm GMD, which is more typical of older engines. An updated correlation between CBC and SNthat accounts for typical size of BC emitted by modern aircraft is proposed. An uncertainty of ±25% accounts for variation in GMD in the range 20-30 nm and for the range of filter diameters. The SN-CBC correlation currently used in FOA3 underestimates by a factor of 2.5-3 for SN <15, implying that current estimates of aircraft BC emissions derived from SN are underestimated by the same factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1205-1214
Number of pages10
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2013

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