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Keywords:

  • aerosol climatology;
  • long-term trend;
  • aerosol optical depth;
  • concentration weighted trajectory analysis

Abstract

[1] We present the climatology of aerosol microphysics, its trends, and impact of potential sources based on the long term measurements (for a period of 11.5 years from December 2001 to May 2012) of aerosol optical depths (AOD) in the spectral range 340–1020 nm from an urban center Delhi (28.6°N, 77.3°E, 238 m mean sea level) in the western Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP). The study is the first ever long-term characterization of aerosols over the western IGP from the ground-based measurements. AODs are known to affect the air quality, visibility, radiative balance, and cloud microphysics of the region and IGP is one of the highest populated and polluted regions of the world. Our measurements show consistently high AOD during the entire period of observation. The seasonal variations of spectral AODs and Angstrom parameters are generally consistent every year. The AODs show a weak but statistically significant (in 95% confidence level) decreasing trend approximately −0.02/year at 500 nm, possibly, modulated by the pre-monsoon heavy dust loading during the first half of the observation period. The climatological monthly mean AOD at shorter wavelengths peaks twice, during June and November, while at longer wavelengths it shows only one peak in June. The annual variations of Angstrom exponent, α and its derivative, α′ suggest the prevalence of multi-modal aerosol size distributions at Delhi. The coarse-mode aerosols dominate during summer (March–June) and monsoon (July–September) seasons, whereas fine/accumulation mode enhances during post-monsoon (October–November) and winter (December–February) seasons. Potential advection pathways have been identified using concentration weighted trajectory (CWT) analysis of the 5 day isentropic air mass back trajectories at the observation site and their seasonal variations are discussed.