Altitude profiles of cloud condensation nuclei characteristics across the Indo-Gangetic Plain prior to the onset of the Indian summer monsoon

Jayachandran, Venugopalan Nair; Suresh Babu, Surendran Nair; Vaishya, Aditya; Gogoi, Mukunda M.; Nair, Vijayakumar S.; Satheesh, Sreedharan Krishnakumari; Krishna Moorthy, Krishnaswamy

Concurrent measurements of the altitude profiles of the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), as a function of supersaturation (ranging from 0.2 % to 1.0 %), and aerosol optical properties (scattering and absorption coefficients) were carried out aboard an instrumented aircraft across the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) just prior to the onset of the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) of 2016. The experiment was conducted under the aegis of the combined South-West Asian Aerosol–Monsoon Interactions and Regional Aerosol Warming Experiment (SWAAMI–RAWEX) campaign. The measurements covered coastal, urban and arid environments. In general, the CCN concentration was highest in the central IGP, decreasing spatially from east to west above the planetary boundary layer (PBL), which is inline-formula∼1.5inline-formulakm for the IGP during pre-monsoon period. Despite this, the CCN activation efficiency at 0.4 % supersaturation was, interestingly, the highest over the eastern IGP (inline-formula∼72 %), followed by that in the west (inline-formula∼61 %), and it was the least over the central IGP (inline-formula∼24 %) within the PBL. In general, higher activation efficiency is noticed above the PBL than below it. The central IGP showed remarkably low CCN activation efficiency at all altitudes, which appears to be associated with high black carbon (BC) mass concentration there, indicating the role of anthropogenic sources in suppressing the CCN efficiency. These first-ever CCN measurements over the western IGP, encompassing “the Great Indian Desert” also known as “the Thar Desert”, showed high CCN efficiency, inline-formula∼61 % at 0.4 % supersaturation, indicating the hygroscopic nature of the dust. The vertical structure of CCN properties is found to be air mass dependent, with higher activation efficiency even over the central IGP during the prevalence of marine air mass. Wet scavenging associated with precipitation episodes seems to have reduced the CCN activation efficiency below cloud level. An empirical relation has emerged between the CCN concentration and the scattering aerosol index (AI), which would facilitate the prediction of CCN from aerosol optical properties.

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Jayachandran, Venugopalan Nair / Suresh Babu, Surendran Nair / Vaishya, Aditya / et al: Altitude profiles of cloud condensation nuclei characteristics across the Indo-Gangetic Plain prior to the onset of the Indian summer monsoon. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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