Task 230

Joint Aerosol-Monsoon Experiment

Principal Investigator(s):

C. Li


S-C. Tsay

Last Updated:

October 26, 2012 15:25:57

Description of Problem

Atmospheric aerosols, through interaction with clouds and alteration of the radiation, may influence the Asian Monsoon system, a critical component in the water cycle for this most populated continent of the world. Climate modeling studies of the aerosol-cloud-water cycle require detailed information about aerosol distribution and properties, which are highly variable and necessitate intense field deployments.

Scientific Objectives and Approach

We have analyzed the data from the deployment of the NASA GSFC SMARTLabs facility in Southeast Asia during spring 2006 (BASE-ASIA). Using the data set, we have characterized the chemical composition, optical and microphysical properties of aerosols in the region during the peak biomass burning season. We have also determined the source areas of aerosols in the region by combining and measurements and trajectory modeling.

Another regional field experiment will be carried out in March- April, 2012, in northern Vietnam, to further enhance our understanding of the impact of forest fires on the regional climate.

We have also analyzed the data from the 7-SEAS/Dongsha field experiment, conducted in South China Sea in spring 2010, as a pilot study of 7-SEAS (Seven SouthEast Asian Studies). The rich data set of aerosol composition and properties have been used to characterize both maritime aerosols and as well as long-range transport from the Asian continent.

In addition to field experiments, we also continue to explore the applications of NASA EOS satellite data in understanding the sources, properties, and impacts of aerosols and precursor gases. We have experimented methods to combine field measurements, satellite retrievals, and atmospheric modeling to study regional aerosol transport events.


Our analyses of the BASE-ASIA data indicate that aerosol pollution has developed into a regional problem for northern Indochina. Biomass burning, industrial pollution and long-range transport all contribute to the aerosol loading in the area. A paper reporting the results have been submitted to Atmospheric Environment, and is now under revision after the initial review.

We have explored the application of NASA satellite in monitoring and forecasting aerosol pollution in China and Southeast Asia. We established a new methodology combining the trajectory models and satellite data to provide 24-hr forecast of surface particulate matter. The method can be easily adapted for other areas. The results were published in Atmospheric Environment.

In another study we have systematically analyzed the rapid transpacific transport of Asian pollution. This study discovers that the anthropogenic pollutant such as SO2 from China can frequently reach the other side of the Pacific ocean. Their impact is much greater than previously suggested by aircraft measurements. It also highlights the importance of long-range transport in fall, which has been rarely studied. The paper has been accepted by Journal of Geophysical Research and will appear soon.

Papers analyzing data from the RAGHO-MEGHA and 7-SEAS/Dongsha field experiment have been published.

Refereed Journal Publications

Li, C., N. C. Hsu, and S.-C. Tsay (2011), A Study on the potential applications of satellite data in air quality monitoring and forecasting, Atmos. Environ., 45, 3663-3675.

Li, Z., C. Li, H. Chen, S.-C. Tsay, B. Holben, J. Huang, B. Li, H. Maring, Y. Qian, G. Shi, X. Xia, Y. Yin, Y. Zheng, and G. Zhuang (2011), East Asian Studies of Tropospheric Aerosols and their Impact on Regional Climate (EAST-AIRC): An overview, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D00K34, doi:10.1029/2010JD015257.

Wang, S.-H., S.-C. Tsay, N.-H. Lin, N. C. Hsu, S. W. Bell, C. Li, Q. Ji, M.-J. Jeong, R. A. Hansell, E. J. Welton, B. N. Holben, G.-R. Sheu, Y.-C. Chu, S.-C. Chang, J.-J. Liu, and W.-L. Chiang (2011), First detailed observations of long-range transported dust over the northern South China Sea, Atmos. Environ., 45, 4804-4808.

Gautam, R., N. C. Hsu, S.-C. Tsay, K. M. Lau, B. Holben, S. Bell, A. Smirnov, C. Li, R. Hansell, Q. Ji, S. Payra, D. Aryal, R. Kayastha, and K. M. Kim (2011), Accumulation of aerosols over the Indo-Gangetic plains and southern slopes of the Himalayas: distribution, properties and radiative effects during the 2009 pre-monsoon season, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 11, 12841-12863, doi:10.5194/acp-11-12841-2011.

Other Publications and Conferences

Best Research Faculty Paper Award, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, December 15, 2011