Abstract. Biomass burning aerosols can have a large impact on atmospheric processes as well as human health. During the 2012 warm season, a large outbreak of wildfires originating from the intermountain and Pacific states provided many opportunities to observe the physical and chemical properties of biomass smoke aerosols. Six biomass burning smoke plumes (26 June–15 September) have been observed by the newly installed Grand Forks, North Dakota, AERONET site (47.91° N, 97.32° W) and are selected for this study. To identify the source regions, HYSPLIT backward trajectory model data and satellite imagery are used to track these events. The volume size distribution and spectral aerosol optical depth (AOD) dependence showed the relative influences of fine and coarse mode particles. Case II (4 July) had the strongest fine mode influence as evidenced by a strong spectral AOD dependence while Case VI (15 September) had the strongest coarse mode influence with the weakest spectral dependence. The spectral dependences of absorption aerosol optical depth (AAOD) and single scattering co-albedo (ωoabs) illustrated the varying absorption of the smoke plumes by inferring the relative contributions of strongly and weakly absorbing carbonaceous species. More specifically, the AAOD parameter is primarily influenced by aerosol particle size while ωoabs is more dependent on aerosol composition. The AAOD spectral dependences for Cases I (26 June), III (31 July), and VI were weaker than those from Cases II, IV (28 August), and V (30 August). However, the spectral ωoabs dependences were different in that the smoke particles in Cases III and VI had the strongest absorption while Cases I, II, IV, and V had moderate to weakly absorbing particles. In addition, a weak correlation was found between plume transport time and particle absorption where strongly absorbing carbon was converted to weakly absorbing carbon.