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Aerosol Characteristics over the Northwestern Indo-Gangetic Plain: Clear-Sky Radiative Forcing of Composite and Black Carbon Aerosol

Category: Optical/Radiative Properties and Remote Sensing

Volume: 19 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 5-14
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.09.0339

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Onam Bansal, Atinderpal Singh, Darshan Singh

  • Department of Physics, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India


Variability in PM, AOD and BC aerosol has been studied.
Source apportionment of BC aerosol.
Simulated optical and radiative properties of aerosol.
Radiative forcing of composite and black carbon aerosol.


The present study examines the aerosol characteristics over Patiala in northwestern India from October 2013 to June 2014. The average mass concentration of the total suspended particulates (TSP) varied from 117 to 301 µg m–3, with PM10 accounting for ~63–83% from October to February (P1) and decreasing to less than ~40% from March to June (P2). The aerosol optical depth (AOD500) exhibited its highest values during October (0.818) and its lowest during April (0.332), with the wavelength dependence differing significantly on a temporal scale. The Ångstrom exponent (α380-870) values indicated a relatively high quantity of fine-mode particles over the study region during P1 as compared to P2, which is consistent with the PM measurements. The average monthly mass concentration of the climate forcing agent black carbon (BC) varied from 2.4 to 12 µg m–3, with the highest mass concentration in December and the lowest in June. The average monthly single scattering albedo (SSA500) derived from the OPAC (Optical Properties of Aerosols and Clouds) model varied from 0.890 to 0.947, with lower values during P1 than P2. The average monthly clear-sky direct atmospheric aerosol radiative forcing (ATM ARF) estimated by the SBDART (Santa Barbara DISORT Atmospheric Radiative Transfer) model ranged between +12 and +36 Wm–2 over the study region. Even though the mass fraction of BC averaged over the study period was only 2.4% of the total mass of the composite aerosol, its contribution to net ATM ARF was found to be significant (> 60%), indicating that BC contributes significantly to warming on a regional scale. These results improve our understanding of the impact of BC and composite aerosol on the earth’s radiation budget and hence on regional climate.


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