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  • Author or Editor: L. D. Ziemba x
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V. Buchard, C. A. Randles, A. M. da Silva, A. Darmenov, P. R. Colarco, R. Govindaraju, R. Ferrare, J. Hair, A. J. Beyersdorf, L. D. Ziemba, and H. Yu


The Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2), is NASA’s latest reanalysis for the satellite era (1980 onward) using the Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5), Earth system model. MERRA-2 provides several improvements over its predecessor (MERRA-1), including aerosol assimilation for the entire period. MERRA-2 assimilates bias-corrected aerosol optical depth (AOD) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer and the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instruments. Additionally, MERRA-2 assimilates (non bias corrected) AOD from the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer over bright surfaces and AOD from Aerosol Robotic Network sunphotometer stations. This paper, the second of a pair, summarizes the efforts to assess the quality of the MERRA-2 aerosol products. First, MERRA-2 aerosols are evaluated using independent observations. It is shown that the MERRA-2 absorption aerosol optical depth (AAOD) and ultraviolet aerosol index (AI) compare well with Ozone Monitoring Instrument observations. Next, aerosol vertical structure and surface fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are evaluated using available satellite, aircraft, and ground-based observations. While MERRA-2 generally compares well to these observations, the assimilation cannot correct for all deficiencies in the model (e.g., missing emissions). Such deficiencies can explain many of the biases with observations. Finally, a focus is placed on several major aerosol events to illustrate successes and weaknesses of the AOD assimilation: the Mount Pinatubo eruption, a Saharan dust transport episode, the California Rim Fire, and an extreme pollution event over China. The article concludes with a summary that points to best practices for using the MERRA-2 aerosol reanalysis in future studies.

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J.-P. Vernier, T. D. Fairlie, T. Deshler, M. Venkat Ratnam, H. Gadhavi, B. S. Kumar, M. Natarajan, A. K. Pandit, S. T. Akhil Raj, A. Hemanth Kumar, A. Jayaraman, A. K. Singh, N. Rastogi, P. R. Sinha, S. Kumar, S. Tiwari, T. Wegner, N. Baker, D. Vignelles, G. Stenchikov, I. Shevchenko, J. Smith, K. Bedka, A. Kesarkar, V. Singh, J. Bhate, V. Ravikiran, M. Durga Rao, S. Ravindrababu, A. Patel, H. Vernier, F. G. Wienhold, H. Liu, T. N. Knepp, L. Thomason, J. Crawford, L. Ziemba, J. Moore, S. Crumeyrolle, M. Williamson, G. Berthet, F. Jégou, and J.-B. Renard


We describe and show results from a series of field campaigns that used balloonborne instruments launched from India and Saudi Arabia during the summers 2014–17 to study the nature, formation, and impacts of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (ATAL). The campaign goals were to i) characterize the optical, physical, and chemical properties of the ATAL; ii) assess its impacts on water vapor and ozone; and iii) understand the role of convection in its formation. To address these objectives, we launched 68 balloons from four locations, one in Saudi Arabia and three in India, with payload weights ranging from 1.5 to 50 kg. We measured meteorological parameters; ozone; water vapor; and aerosol backscatter, concentration, volatility, and composition in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) region. We found peaks in aerosol concentrations of up to 25 cm–3 for radii > 94 nm, associated with a scattering ratio at 940 nm of ∼1.9 near the cold-point tropopause. During medium-duration balloon flights near the tropopause, we collected aerosols and found, after offline ion chromatography analysis, the dominant presence of nitrate ions with a concentration of about 100 ng m–3. Deep convection was found to influence aerosol loadings 1 km above the cold-point tropopause. The Balloon Measurements of the Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (BATAL) project will continue for the next 3–4 years, and the results gathered will be used to formulate a future National Aeronautics and Space Administration–Indian Space Research Organisation (NASA–ISRO) airborne campaign with NASA high-altitude aircraft.

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