Sunphotometry of the 2006–2007 aerosol optical/radiative properties at the Himalayan Nepal Climate Observatory – Pyramid (5079 m a.s.l.)
1Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate CNR, Rome, Italy
2Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate CNR, Bologna, Italy
3Ev-K2-CNR Organization, Bergamo, Italy
Abstract. In spite of being located at the heart of the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayan Nepal Climate Observatory (5079 m a.s.l.) at the Ev-K2-CNR Pyramid is shown to be affected by the advection of pollution aerosols from the populated regions of southern Nepal and the Indo-Gangetic plains. Such an impact is observed along most of the period April 2006–March 2007 addressed here, with a minimum in the monsoon season. Backtrajectory-analysis indicates long-range transport episodes occurring in this period to originate mainly in the West Asian deserts. At this high altitude site, the measured aerosol optical depth is observed to be: 1) about one order of magnitude lower than the one measured at Gandhi College (60 m a.s.l.), in the Indo-Gangetic basin, and 2) maximum during the monsoon period, due to the presence of elevated (cirrus-like) particle layers. Assessment of the aerosol radiative forcing results to be hampered by the persistent presence of these high altitude particle layers, which impede a continuous measurement of both the aerosol optical depth and its radiative properties from sky radiance inversions. Even though the retrieved absorption coefficients of pollution aerosols was rather large (single scattering albedo of the order of 0.6–0.9 were observed in the month of April 2006), the corresponding low optical depths (~0.03 at 500 nm) are expected to limit the relevant radiative forcings. Still, the high specific forcing of this aerosol and its capability of altering snow surface albedo provide good reason for continuous monitoring.