Strong day-to-day variability of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL) in August 2016 at the Himalayan foothills
Hanumanthu, S., Vogel, B., Müller, R., Brunamonti, S., Fadnavis, S., Li, D., Ölsner, P., Naja, M., Singh, B. B., Kumar, K. R., Sonbawne, S., Jauhiainen, H., Vömel, H., Luo, B., Jorge, T., Wienhold, F. G., Dirkson, R., and Peter, T.
by Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) at 2020-11-24
The South Asian summer monsoon is associated with a large-scale anticyclonic circulation in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), which confines the air mass inside. During boreal summer, the confinement of this air mass leads to an accumulation of aerosol between about 13 and 18 km (360 and 440 K potential temperature); this accumulation of aerosol constitutes the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL). We present balloon-borne aerosol backscatter measurements of the ATAL performed by the Compact Optical Backscatter Aerosol Detector (COBALD) instrument in Nainital in northern India in August 2016, and compare these with COBALD measurements in the post-monsoon time in November 2016. The measurements demonstrate a strong variability of the ATAL's altitude, vertical extent, aerosol backscatter intensity and cirrus cloud occurrence frequency. Such a variability cannot be deduced from climatological means of the ATAL as they are derived from satellite measurements. To explain this observed variability we performed a Lagrangian back-trajectory analysis using the Chemical Lagrangian Model of the Stratosphere (CLaMS). We identify the transport pathways as well as the source regions of air parcels contributing to the ATAL over Nainital in August 2016. Our analysis reveals a variety of factors contributing to the observed day-to-day variability of the ATAL: continental convection, tropical cyclones (maritime convection), dynamics of the anticyclone and stratospheric intrusions. Thus, the air in the ATAL is a mixture of air masses coming from different atmospheric altitude layers. In addition, contributions from the model boundary layer originate in different geographic source regions. The location of the strongest updraft along the backward trajectories reveals a cluster of strong upward transport at the southern edge of the Himalayan foothills. From the top of the convective outflow level (about 13 km; 360 K) the air parcels ascend slowly to ATAL altitudes within a large-scale upward spiral driven by the diabatic heating in the anticyclonic flow of the South Asian summer monsoon at UTLS altitudes. Cases with a strong ATAL typically show boundary layer contributions from the Tibetan Plateau, the foothills of the Himalayas and other continental regions below the Asian monsoon. Weaker ATAL cases show higher contributions from the maritime boundary layer, often related to tropical cyclones, indicating a mixing of clean maritime and polluted continental air. On the one hand increasing anthropogenic emissions in the future are expected due to the strong growth of Asian economies; on the other hand the implementation of new emission control measures (in particular in China) has reduced the anthropogenic emissions of some pollutants contributing to the ATAL substantially. It needs to be monitored in the future whether the thickness and intensity of the ATAL will further increase, which will likely impact the surface climate.
Hanumanthu, S., Vogel, B., Müller, R., Brunamonti, S., Fadnavis, S., Li, D., Ölsner, P., Naja, M., Singh, B. B., Kumar, K. R., Sonbawne, S., Jauhiainen, H., Vömel, H., Luo, B., Jorge, T., Wienhold, F. G., Dirkson, R., and Peter, T.: Strong day-to-day variability of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL) in August 2016 at the Himalayan foothills, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 14273–14302, https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-20-14273-2020, 2020.