Amplification of South Asian haze by water vapour–aerosol interactions

Nair, Vijayakumar Sivadasan; Giorgi, Filippo; Keshav Hasyagar, Usha

Air pollution and wintertime fog over South Asia is a major concern due to its significant implications for air quality, visibility and health. Using a regional climate model coupled with chemistry, we assess the contribution of the hygroscopic growth of aerosols (ambient–dry) to the total aerosol optical depth and demonstrate that the increased surface cooling due to the hygroscopic effects of aerosols further increases the humidity in the boundary layer and thus enhances the confinement of pollutants through aerosol–boundary layer interactions. This positive feedback mechanism plays an important role in the prevalence of wintertime fog and poor air quality conditions over South Asia, where water vapour contributes more than half of the aerosol optical depth. The aerosol–boundary layer interactions lead to moistening of the boundary layer and drying of the free troposphere, which amplifies the long-term trend in relative humidity over the Indo-Gangetic Plain during winter. Hence, the aerosol–water vapour interaction plays a decisive role in the formation and maintenance of the wintertime fog conditions over South Asia, which needs to be considered for planning mitigation strategies.

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Nair, Vijayakumar Sivadasan / Giorgi, Filippo / Keshav Hasyagar, Usha: Amplification of South Asian haze by water vapour–aerosol interactions. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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