The optical properties, physical properties and direct radiative forcing of urban columnar aerosols in the Yangtze River Delta, China
Abstract. The optical and physical properties as well as the direct radiative forcings (DRFs) of fractionated aerosols in the urban area of the western Yangtze River Delta (YRD) are investigated with measurements from a Cimel sun photometer combined with a radiation transfer model. Ground-based observations of aerosols have much higher temporal resolutions than satellite retrievals. An initial analysis reveals the characteristics of the optical properties of different types of fractionated aerosols in the western YRD. The total aerosols, mostly composed of scattering components (93.8 %), have mean optical depths of 0.65 at 550 nm and refractive index of 1.44 + 0.0084i at 440 nm. The fine aerosols are approximately four times more abundant and have very different compositions from coarse aerosols. The absorbing components account for only ∼ 4.6 % of fine aerosols and 15.5 % of coarse aerosols and have smaller sizes than the scattering aerosols within the same mode. Therefore, fine particles have stronger scattering than coarse ones, simultaneously reflecting the different size distributions between the absorbing and scattering aerosols. The relationships among the optical properties quantify the aerosol mixing and imply that approximately 15 and 27.5 % of the total occurrences result in dust- and black-carbon-dominating mixing aerosols, respectively, in the western YRD. Unlike the optical properties, the size distributions of aerosols in the western YRD are similar to those found at other sites over eastern China on a climatological scale, peaking at radii of 0.148 and 2.94 µm. However, further analysis reveals that the coarse-dominated particles can also lead to severe haze pollution over the YRD. Observation-based estimations indicate that both fine and coarse aerosols in the western YRD exert negative DRFs, and this is especially true for fine aerosols (−11.17 W m−2 at the top of atmosphere, TOA). A higher absorption fraction leads directly to the negative DRF being further offset for coarse aerosols (−0.33 W m−2) at the TOA. Similarly, the coarse-mode DRF contributes to only 13.3 % of the total scattering aerosols but > 33.7 % to the total absorbing aerosols. A sensitivity analysis states that aerosol DRFs are not highly sensitive to their profiles in clear-sky conditions. Most of the aerosol properties and DRFs have substantial seasonality in the western YRD. The results further reveal the contributions of each component of the different size particles to the total aerosol optical depths (AODs) and DRFs. Additionally, these results can be used to improve aerosol modelling performance and the modelling of aerosol effects in the eastern regions of China.