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Black carbon physical and optical properties across northern India during pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons

Brooks, J., Liu, D., Allan, J. D., Williams, P. I., Haywood, J., Highwood, E. J., Kompalli, S. K., Babu, S. S., Satheesh, S. K., Turner, A. G. ORCID: and Coe, H. (2019) Black carbon physical and optical properties across northern India during pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19 (20). pp. 13079-13096. ISSN 1680-7316

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/acp-19-13079-2019


Black carbon (BC) is known to have major impacts on both climate and human health and is therefore of global importance, particularly in regions close to large populations that have strong sources. The size-resolved mixing state of BC-containing particles was characterised using a single-particle soot photometer (SP2). The study focusses on the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) during the pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons. Data presented are from the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements BAe-146 research aircraft that performed flights during the pre-monsoon (11 and 12 June) and monsoon (30 June to 11 July) seasons of 2016. Over the IGP, BC mass concentrations were greater (1.95 µg m−3) compared to north-west India (1.50 µg m−3) and north-east India (0.70 µg m−3) during the pre-monsoon season. Across northern India, two distinct BC modes were recorded; a mode of small BC particles (core diameter <0.16 µm and coating thickness <50 nm) and a mode of moderately coated BC (core diameter <0.22 µm and coating thickness of 50–200 nm). The IGP and north-east India locations exhibited moderately coated black carbon particles with enhanced coating thicknesses, core sizes, mass absorption cross sections, and scattering enhancement values compared to much lower values present in the north-west. The coating thickness and mass absorption cross section increased with altitude (13 %) compared to those in the boundary layer. As the monsoon arrived across the region, mass concentration of BC decreased over the central IGP and north-east locations (38 % and 28 % respectively), whereas for the north-west location BC properties remained relatively consistent. Post-monsoon onset, the coating thickness, core size, mass absorption cross section, and scattering enhancement values were all greatest over the central IGP much like the pre-monsoon season but were considerably reduced over both north-east and north-west India. Increases in mass absorption cross section through the atmospheric column were still present during the monsoon for the north-west and central IGP locations, but less so over the north-east due to lack of long-range transport aerosol aloft. Across the Indo-Gangetic Plain and north-east India during the pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons, solid-fuel (wood burning) emissions form the greatest proportion of BC with moderately coated particles. However, as the monsoon develops in the north-east there was a switch to small uncoated BC particles indicative of traffic emissions, but the solid-fuel emissions remained in the IGP into the monsoon. For both seasons in the north-west, traffic emissions form the greatest proportion of BC particles. Our findings will prove important for greater understanding of the BC physical and optical properties, with important consequences for the atmospheric radiative forcing of BC-containing particles. The findings will also help constrain the regional aerosol models for a variety of applications such as space-based remote sensing, chemistry transport modelling, air quality, and BC source and emission inventories.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:89765
Publisher:Copernicus Publications


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