MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) level-3 aerosol data, NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction) reanalysis winds and QuikSCAT ocean surface winds were made use of to examine the role of atmospheric circulation in governing aerosol variations over the Bay of Bengal (BoB) during the first phase of the ICARB (Integrated Campaign for Aerosols, gases and Radiation Budget) campaign (March 18–April 12, 2006). An inter-comparison between MODIS level-3 aerosol optical depth (AOD) data and ship-borne MICROTOPS measurements showed good agreement with correlation 0.92 (𝑝 > 0.0001) and a mean MODIS underestimation by 0.01. During the study period, the AOD over BoB showed high values in the northern/north western regions, which reduced towards the central and southern BoB. The wind patterns in lower atmospheric layers (< 850 hPa) indicated that direct transport of aerosols from central India was inhibited by the presence of a high pressure and a divergence over BoB in the lower altitudes. On the other hand, in the upper atmospheric levels, winds from central and northern India stretched south eastwards and converged over BoB with a negative vorticity indicative of a downdraft. These wind patterns pointed to the possibility of aerosol transport from central India to BoB by upper level winds. This mechanism was further confirmed by the significant correlations that AOD variations over BoB showed with aerosol flux convergence and flux vorticity at upper atmospheric levels (600–500 hPa). AOD in central and southern BoB away from continental influences displayed an exponential dependence on the QuikSCAT measured ocean surface wind speed. This study shows that particles transported from central and northern India by upper atmospheric circulations as well as the marine aerosols generated by ocean surface winds contributed to the AOD over the BoB during the first phase of ICARB.
Volume 129, 2020
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