Radiative signature of absorbing aerosol over the eastern Mediterranean basin
Abstract. The effects of absorbing aerosols on the atmospheric radiation budget and dynamics over the eastern Mediterranean region are studied using satellites and ground-based observations, and radiative transfer model calculations, under summer conditions. Climatology of aerosol optical depth (AOD), single scattering albedo (SSA) and size parameters were analyzed using multi-year (1999–2012) observations from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) and AErosol RObotic NETwork (AERONET). Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP)-derived aerosol vertical distributions and their classifications are used to calculate the AOD of four dominant aerosol types: dust, polluted dust, polluted continental, and marine aerosol over the region. The seasonal mean (June–August 2010) AODs are 0.22 ± 0.02, 0.11 ± 0.04, 0.10 ± 0.04 and 0.06 ± 0.01 for polluted dust, polluted continental, dust and marine aerosol, respectively. Changes in the atmospheric temperature profile as a function of absorbing aerosol loading were derived for the same period using observations from the AIRS satellite. We inferred heating rates in the aerosol layer of ~1.7 ± 0.8 K day−1 between 925 and 850 hPa, which is attributed to aerosol absorption of incoming solar radiation. Radiative transfer model (RTM) calculations show significant atmospheric warming for dominant absorbing aerosol over the region. A maximum atmospheric forcing of +16.7 ± 7.9 Wm−2 is calculated in the case of polluted dust, followed by dust (+9.4 ± 4.9 Wm−2) and polluted continental (+6.4 ± 4.5 Wm−2). RTM-derived heating rate profiles for dominant absorbing aerosol show warming of 0.1–0.9 K day−1 in the aerosol layer (< 3.0 km altitudes), which primarily depend on AODs of the different aerosol types. Diabatic heating due to absorbing aerosol stabilizes the lower atmosphere, which could significantly reduce the atmospheric ventilation. These conditions can enhance the "pollution pool" over the eastern Mediterranean.