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Influence of Relative Humidity, Mixed-Layer Height, and Mesoscale Vertical-Velocity Variations on Column and Surface Aerosol Characteristics Over an Urban Region

Ramachandran, S., Rajesh, T. A., Kedia, Sumita
Boundary-layer meteorology 2019 v.170 no.1 pp. 161-181
absorbance, absorption, aerosols, asymmetry, biofuels, biomass, burning, emissions, fossil fuels, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, photometers, radiative forcing, relative humidity, urban areas, India
Investigations into the influence of variations in relative humidity, mixed-layer height, and mesoscale vertical velocity on column and surface aerosol characteristics over urban regions are quite rare. Here we report on a comprehensive investigation that was conducted over Ahmedabad, an urban location in western India, during December 2006. In this campaign columnar and surface aerosol characteristics were measured and compared to relative humidity, mixed-layer height, and mesoscale vertical velocity to examine their influence on urban aerosol characteristics. The 500-nm aerosol optical depth was found to be approximately 0.8 between 24 and 26 December while on a cleaner day such as 7 and 18 December the aerosol optical depth was 0.1. Aerosol optical depths based on Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) level-2 and level-3 data, and on in situ Sun photometer measurements, show good agreement. The scattering coefficient ([Formula: see text]) and absorption coefficient ([Formula: see text]) increased by a factor of 5–10 on 26 December compared to 7 December (a normal day). This latter date was characterized by a clear atmosphere, a lower mixed-layer height ([Formula: see text]1650 m), positive vertical velocity and higher aerosol scale height (>3 km), while 26 December was marked with hazy and smoky conditions, a larger mixed-layer height ([Formula: see text]2500 m), negative vertical velocity and smaller aerosol scale height ([Formula: see text]1 km). These atmospheric conditions lead to lower and higher values of surface and columnar aerosol concentrations on 7 and 26 December respectively. A measure of spectral aerosol absorption, [Formula: see text] > 2, indicating the dominance of carbonaceous aerosols from biomass/biofuel emissions (open biomass burning), is rather surprising as fossil-fuel emissions that produce strongly light absorbing carbonaceous particles usually dominate urban regions. The single-scattering albedo on both days is 0.56 and 0.67 respectively, while monthly mean hemispheric backscatter fraction b and asymmetry parameter g values are 0.16 and 0.53 respectively. Higher b and lower g values on 7 December, and lower b and higher g values on 26 December, provide the relative scale of variation in the amount of sub-micron aerosols that dominate on a normal/clear day vis-à-vis a smoky/perturbed day. Lower single-scattering albedo indicates the dominance of absorbing aerosols above Ahmedabad, and higher b and lower g values suggest the abundance of fine mode particles in aerosol size distribution. The in-depth results serve as representative inputs to modelling the column and surface characteristics, and the resultant radiative forcing of urban aerosols influenced by variations in relative humidity, mixed-layer height, and mesoscale vertical velocity.