A satellite-based assessment of transpacific transport of pollution aerosol

Authors

  • Hongbin Yu,

    1. Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    2. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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  • Lorraine A. Remer,

    1. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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  • Mian Chin,

    1. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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  • Huisheng Bian,

    1. Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    2. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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  • Richard G. Kleidman,

    1. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
    2. Science System and Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland, USA
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  • Thomas Diehl

    1. Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
    2. Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
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Abstract

[1] It has been well documented that pollution and dust from east Asia can be transported across the North Pacific basin, reaching North America and beyond. In this study, we assess the transpacific transport of “pollution aerosol” (defined as a mixture of aerosols from urban/industrial pollution and biomass burning) by taking advantage of the much improved measurement accuracy and enhanced new capabilities of satellite sensors in recent years. A 4-year (2002 to 2005) climatology of optical depth for pollution aerosol was generated from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations of fine- and coarse-mode aerosol optical depths. The pollution aerosol mass loading and fluxes were then calculated using measurements of the dependence of aerosol mass extinction efficiency on relative humidity and of aerosol vertical distributions from field campaigns and available satellite observations in the region. We estimated that about 18 Tg/a pollution aerosol is exported from east Asia to the northwestern Pacific Ocean, of which about 25% reaches the west coast of North America. The imported flux of 4.4 Tg/a to North America is equivalent to about 15% of local emissions from the United States and Canada. The pollution fluxes are largest in spring and smallest in summer. For the period we have examined the strongest export and import of pollution particulates occurred in 2003, largely because of record intense Eurasia boreal forest fires in spring and summer. The overall uncertainty of pollution fluxes is estimated at a factor of 2. Simulations by the Goddard Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport (GOCART) and Global Modeling Initiative (GMI) models agree quite well with the satellite-based estimates of annual and latitude-integrated fluxes, with larger model-satellite differences in latitudinal and seasonal variations of fluxes.

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