Articles | Volume 11, issue 7
Research article
06 Apr 2011
Research article |  | 06 Apr 2011

Analysis on the impact of aerosol optical depth on surface solar radiation in the Shanghai megacity, China

J. Xu, C. Li, H. Shi, Q. He, and L. Pan

Abstract. This study investigated the decadal variation of the direct surface solar radiation (DiSR) and the diffuse surface solar radiation (DfSR) during 1961–2008 in the Shanghai megacity as well as their relationships to Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) under clear-sky conditions. Three successive periods with unique features of long term variation of DiSR were identified for both clear-sky and all-sky conditions: a "dimming" period from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s, a "stabilization"/"slight brightening" period from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, and a "renewed dimming" period thereafter. During the two dimming periods of DiSR, DfSR brightened significantly under clear-sky conditions, indicating that change in atmospheric transparency resulting from aerosol emission has an important role on decadal variation of surface solar radiation (SSR) over this area. The analysis on the relationship between the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) retrieved AOD and the corresponding hourly measurements of DiSR and DfSR under clear-sky conditions clearly revealed that AOD is significantly correlated and anti-correlated with DfSR and DiSR, respectively, both above 99% confidence in all seasons, indicating the great impact of aerosols on SSR through absorption and/or scattering in the atmosphere. In addition, both AOD and the corresponding DiSR and DfSR measured during the satellite passage over Shanghai show obvious weekly cycles. On weekends, AOD is lower than the weekly average, corresponding to higher DiSR and lower DfSR, while the opposite pattern was true for weekdays. Less AOD on weekends due to the reduction of transportation and industrial activities results in enhancement of atmospheric transparency under cloud free conditions so as to increase DiSR and decrease DfSR simultaneously. Results show that aerosol loading from the anthropogenic emissions is an important modulator for the long term variation of SSR in Shanghai.

Final-revised paper