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Vertical and horizontal distribution of submicron aerosol chemical composition and physical characteristics across northern India during pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons

Brooks, James and Allan, James D and Williams, Paul I and Liu, Dantong and Fox, Cathryn and Haywood, Jim and Langridge, Justin M and Highwood, Ellie J and Kompalli, Sobhan K and O'Sullivan, Debbie and Babu, Suresh S and Satheesh, Sreedharan K and Turner, Andrew G and Coe, Hugh (2019) Vertical and horizontal distribution of submicron aerosol chemical composition and physical characteristics across northern India during pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons. In: ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, 19 (8). pp. 5615-5634.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/ 10.5194/acp-19-5615-2019


The vertical distribution in the physical and chemical properties of submicron aerosol has been characterised across northern India for the first time using airborne in situ measurements. This study focusses primarily on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, a low-lying area in the north of India which commonly experiences high aerosol mass concentrations prior to the monsoon season. Data presented are from the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements BAe-146 research aircraft that performed flights in the region during the 2016 pre-monsoon (11 and 12 June) and monsoon (30 June to 11 July) seasons. Inside the Indo-Gangetic Plain boundary layer, organic matter dominated the submicron aerosol mass (43 %) followed by sulfate (29 %), ammonium (14 %), nitrate (7 %) and black carbon (7 %). However, outside the Indo-Gangetic Plain, sulfate was the dominant species, contributing 44% to the total submicron aerosol mass in the boundary layer, followed by organic matter (30 %), ammonium (14 %), nitrate (6 %) and black carbon (6 %). Chlorine mass concentrations were negligible throughout the campaign. Black carbon mass concentrations were higher inside the Indo-Gangetic Plain (2 mu g m(-3)) compared to outside (1 mu g m(-3)). Nitrate appeared to be controlled by thermodynamic processes, with increased mass concentration in conditions of lower temperature and higher relative humidity. Increased mass and number concentrations were observed inside the Indo-Gangetic Plain and the aerosol was more absorbing in this region, whereas outside the Indo-Gangetic Plain the aerosol was larger in size and more scattered in nature, suggesting greater dust presence, especially in north-western India. The aerosol composition remained largely similar as the monsoon season progressed, but the total aerosol mass concentrations decreased by similar to 50% as the rainfall arrived; the pre-monsoon average total mass concentration was 30 mu g m(-3) compared to a monsoon average total mass concentration of 10-20 mu g m(-3). However, this mass concentration decrease was less noteworthy (similar to 20 %-30 %) over the Indo-Gangetic Plain, likely due to the strength of emission sources in this region. Decreases occurred in coarse mode aerosol, with the fine mode fraction increasing with monsoon arrival. In the aerosol vertical profile, inside the Indo-Gangetic Plain during the pre-monsoon, organic aerosol and absorbing aerosol species dominated in the lower atmosphere (< 1.5 km), with sulfate, dust and other scattering aerosol species enhanced in an elevated aerosol layer above 1.5 km with maximum aerosol height similar to 6 km. The elevated concentration of dust at altitudes > 1.5 km is a clear indication of dust transport from the Great Indian Desert, also called the Thar Desert, in north-western India. As the monsoon progressed into this region, the elevated aerosol layer diminished, the aerosol maximum height reduced to similar to 2 km. The dust and sulfate-dominated aerosol layer aloft was removed upon monsoon arrival, highlighted by an increase in fine mode fraction throughout the profile.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this document belongs to COPERNICUS GESELLSCHAFT MBH
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Date Deposited: 22 May 2019 10:23
Last Modified: 22 May 2019 10:23
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/62692

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