12 Apr 2023
 | 12 Apr 2023

Identification of source regions of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer on the Indian subcontinent in August 2016

Jan Clemens, Bärbel Vogel, Lars Hoffmann, Sabine Griessbach, Nicole Thomas, Survana Fadnavis, Rolf Müller, Thomas Peter, and Felix Ploeger

Abstract. The Asian tropopause aerosol layer (ATAL) is a distinct feature during the Asian summer monsoon season with an impact on the regional radiative balance of the Earth's atmosphere. However, the source regions and the detailed transport pathways of ATAL particles are still uncertain. In this study, we investigate transport pathways from different regions at the model boundary (MB) to the ATAL using the two Lagrangian transport models CLaMS (Chemical Lagrangian Model of the Stratosphere) and MPTRAC (Massive-Parallel Trajectory Calculations), two reanalyses (ERA5 and ERA-Interim), and balloon-borne measurements of the ATAL performed by the Compact Optical Backscatter Aerosol Detector (COBALD) above Nainital (India) in August 2016. Trajectories are initialized at the location of the ATAL, as measured by COBALD in the Himalayas, and calculated 90 days backward in time to investigate the relation between the measured, daily averaged, aerosol backscatter ratio and different source regions at the MB. Nine source regions at the MB are distinguished, marking continental and maritime sources in the region of the Asian monsoon. Different simulation scenarios are performed, to find systematic differences as well as robust patterns, when the reanalysis data, the trajectory model, the vertical coordinate (kinematic and diabatic approach) or the convective parameterisation are varied.

While there are many robust features, the simulation scenarios also show some considerable differences between the air mass contributions of different source regions at the MB in the region of the Asian monsoon. The contribution to all air parcels from the MB varied between 5 % and 40 % for the Indo-Gangetic plain, the contribution from the Tibetan Plateau varied between 30 % and 40 % and contributions from oceans varied between 14 % and 43 % for different scenarios. However, the robust finding among all scenarios is that the largest continental air mass contributions originate from the Tibetan plateau and the India subcontinent (mostly the Indo-Gangetic plain), and largest maritime air mass contributions in Asia come from the Western Pacific (e. g. related to tropical cyclones such as typhoons). Additionally, all simulation scenarios indicate that transport of maritime air from the Tropical Western Pacific to the region of the ATAL lowers the backscatter ratio (BSR) of the ATAL, while most scenarios indicate that transport of polluted air from the Indo-Gangetic plain increases the BSR. Therefore, while the results corroborate key findings from previous ERA-Interim based studies, they highlight the variability of the contributions of different MB regions to the ATAL depending on the meteorological input data, vertical velocities and in particular on the treatment of convection within the model calculations.

Jan Clemens et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1462', Anonymous Referee #2, 15 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1462', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 May 2023

Jan Clemens et al.

Jan Clemens et al.


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Short summary
The source regions of the Asian tropopause aerosol layer are under debate. We use balloon-borne measurements of the layer above Nainital (India) in August 2016 and atmospheric transport models, to find the ATALs source regions. Most air originate from the Tibetan plateau. However, the measured ATAL was stronger when more air originated from the Indo-Gangetic plain and weaker when more air originated from the Pacific. Hence, the results indicate important anthropogenic contributions to the ATAL.