Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Air pollution over the Ganges basin and northwest Bay of Bengal in the early postmonsoon season based on NASA MERRAero data



The MERRA Aerosol Reanalysis (MERRAero) has been recently developed at NASA's Global Modeling Assimilation Office. This reanalysis is based on a version of the Goddard Earth Observing System-5 (GEOS-5) model radiatively coupled with Goddard Chemistry, Aerosol, Radiation, and Transport aerosols, and it includes assimilation of bias-corrected aerosol optical thickness (AOT) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on both Terra and Aqua satellites. In October over the period 2002–2009, MERRAero showed that AOT was lower over the east of the Ganges basin than over the northwest of the Ganges basin: this was despite the fact that the east of the Ganges basin should have produced higher anthropogenic aerosol emissions because of higher population density, increased industrial output, and transportation. This is evidence that higher aerosol emissions do not always correspond to higher AOT over the areas where the effects of meteorological factors on AOT dominate those of aerosol emissions. MODIS AOT assimilation was essential for correcting modeled AOT mainly over the northwest of the Ganges basin, where AOT increments were maximal. Over the east of the Ganges basin and northwest Bay of Bengal (BoB), AOT increments were low and MODIS AOT assimilation did not contribute significantly to modeled AOT. Our analysis showed that increasing AOT trends over northwest BoB (exceeding those over the east of the Ganges basin) were reproduced by GEOS-5, not because of MODIS AOT assimilation but mainly because of the model capability of reproducing meteorological factors contributing to AOT trends. Moreover, vertically integrated aerosol mass flux was sensitive to wind convergence causing aerosol accumulation over northwest BoB.