Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 4673–4688, 2010
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 4673–4688, 2010

  21 May 2010

21 May 2010

How can aerosols affect the Asian summer monsoon? Assessment during three consecutive pre-monsoon seasons from CALIPSO satellite data

J. Kuhlmann1,2,* and J. Quaas1 J. Kuhlmann and J. Quaas
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2TU Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany
  • *now at: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. The impact of aerosols above and around the Tibetan Plateau on the Asian Summer Monsoon during pre-monsoon seasons March-April-May 2007, 2008, and 2009 is investigated by means of remote sensing and radiative transfer modelling. Four source regions are found to be responsible for the high aerosol loading around the Tibetan Plateau: the Taklamakan Desert, the Ganges Plains, the Indus Plains, and the Arabian Sea. CALIPSO lidar satellite data, providing vertically resolved images of aerosols, shows aerosol concentrations to be highest in the lower 5 km of the atmosphere with only little amounts reaching the Tibetan Plateau altitude. Using a radiative transfer model we find that aerosol plumes reduce shortwave radiation throughout the Monsoon region in the seasonal average by between 20 and 30 W/m2. Peak shortwave heating in the lower troposphere reaches 0.2 K/day. In higher layers this shortwave heating is partly balanced by longwave cooling. Although high-albedo surfaces, such as deserts or the Tibetan Plateau, increase the shortwave heating by around 10%, the overall effect is strongest close to the aerosol sources. A strong elevated heating which could influence large-scale monsoonal circulations as suggested by previous studies is not found.

Final-revised paper