Articles | Volume 14, issue 22
Research article
21 Nov 2014
Research article |  | 21 Nov 2014

Recent trends in aerosol optical properties derived from AERONET measurements

J. Li, B. E. Carlson, O. Dubovik, and A. A. Lacis

Abstract. The Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) has been providing high-quality retrievals of aerosol optical properties from the surface at worldwide locations for more than a decade. Many sites have continuous and consistent records for more than 10 years, which enables the investigation of long-term trends in aerosol properties at these locations. In this study, we present the results of a trend analysis at selected stations with long data records. In addition to commonly studied parameters such as aerosol optical depth (AOD) and Ångström exponent (AE), we also focus on inversion products including absorption aerosol optical depth (ABS), single-scattering albedo (SSA) and the absorption Ångström exponent (AAE). Level 2.0 quality assured data are the primary source. However, due to the scarcity of level 2.0 inversion products resulting from the strict AOD quality control threshold, we have also analyzed level 1.5 data, with some quality control screening to provide a reference for global results. Two statistical methods are used to detect and estimate the trend: the Mann–Kendall test associated with Sen's slope and linear least-squares fitting. The results of these statistical tests agree well in terms of the significance of the trend for the majority of the cases. The results indicate that Europe and North America experienced a uniform decrease in AOD, while significant (>90%) increases in these two parameters are found for North India and the Arabian Peninsula. The AE trends turn out to be different for North America and Europe, with increases for the former and decreases for the latter, suggesting opposite changes in fine/coarse-mode fraction. For level 2.0 inversion parameters, Beijing and Kanpur both experienced an increase in SSA. Beijing also shows a reduction in ABS, while the SSA increase for Kanpur is mainly due the increase in scattering aerosols. Increased absorption and reduced SSA are found at Solar_Village. At level 1.5, most European and North American sites also show positive SSA and negative ABS trends, although the data are more uncertain. The AAE trends are less spatially coherent due to large uncertainties, except for a robust increase at three sites in West Africa, which suggests a possible reduction in black carbon. Overall, the trends do not exhibit obvious seasonality for the majority of parameters and stations.

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