Seasonal variations of aerosol size distributions based on long-term measurements at the high altitude Himalayan site of Nepal Climate Observatory-Pyramid (5079 m), Nepal
1Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique, CNRS/University of Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont-Ferrand, France, France
2Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE), CNRS/University of Grenoble, Grenoble, France
3Institute for Atmospheric Science and Climate (ISAC), CNR, Bologna, Italy
4Ev-K2-CNR Committee, Bergamo, Italy
Abstract. The present paper investigates the diurnal and seasonal variability of the aerosol total number concentration, number and volume size distribution between 10 nm and 10 μm, from a combination of a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and an optical counter (OPC), performed over a two-year period (May 2006–May 2008) at the Nepal Climate Observatory-Pyramid (NCO-P) research station, (5079 m a.s.l.). The annual average number concentration measured over the two-year period at the NCO-P is 860 cm−3. Total concentrations show a strong seasonality with maxima during pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons and minima during the dry and monsoon seasons. A diurnal variation is also clearly observed, with maxima between 09:00 and 12:00 UTC. The aerosol concentration maxima are mainly due to nucleation processes during the post-monsoon season, as witnessed by high nucleation mode integrated number concentrations, and to transport of high levels of pollution from the plains by valley breezes during the pre-monsoon season, as demonstrated by high accumulation mode integrated number concentrations. Night-time number concentration of particles (from 03:00 to 08:00 NST) are relatively low throughout the year (from 450 cm−3 during the monsoon season to 675 cm−3 during the pre-monsoon season), indicating the level of free_tropospheric background, as a result of downslope winds during this part of the day. However, it was found that these background concentrations are strongly influenced by the daytime concentrations, as they show the same seasonal variability. The resulting free troposphere (FT)/residual layer concentrations are found to be two times higher than at other lower altitudes European sites, such as the Jungfraujoch. Night-time measurements were subsequently selected to study the FT composition according to different air masses, and the effect of long range transport to the station.