Geophysical Research Letters

Summer dust aerosols detected from CALIPSO over the Tibetan Plateau

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Abstract

[1] Summertime Tibetan dust aerosol plumes are detected from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite. CALIPSO reveals that dust storms occur more frequently than previously found from Tibetan surface observations because few surface sites were available over remote northwestern Tibet due to high elevation and harsh climate. The Tibetan dust aerosol is characterized by column-averaged volume depolarization and total volume color ratios around 21% and 0.83, respectively. The dust layers appear most frequently around 4–7 km above mean sea level. The volume depolarization ratio for about 90% of the dust particles is less than 10% at low altitudes (3–5 km), while only about 50% of the particles have a greater depolarization ratio at higher altitudes (7–10 km). The 4-day back trajectory analyses show that these plumes probably originate from the nearby Taklamakan desert surface and accumulate over the northern slopes of the Tibetan Plateau. These dust outbreaks can affect the radiation balance of the atmosphere of Tibet because they both absorb and reflect solar radiation.

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