1Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, 400 076, India
2Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
3Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, 380 009, India
*now at: University of Leipzig, Institute for Meteorology, Germany
Abstract. In this paper we analyse aerosol loading and its direct radiative effects over the Bay of Bengal (BoB) and Arabian Sea (AS) regions for the Integrated Campaign on Aerosols, gases and Radiation Budget (ICARB) undertaken during 2006, using satellite data from the MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the Terra and Aqua satellites, the Aerosol Index from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board the Aura satellite, and the European-Community Hamburg (ECHAM5.5) general circulation model extended by Hamburg Aerosol Module (HAM). By statistical comparison with large-scale satellite data sets, we firstly show that the ship-based ICARB observations are representative for the entire northern Indian Ocean during the pre-monsoon season. In a second step, the modelled aerosol distributions were evaluated by a comparison with the measurements from the ship-based sunphotometer, and the satellites. It was found that the model reproduces the observed spatial and temporal variability in aerosol optical depth (AOD) and simulated AODs to a large extent. However, AOD was systematically underestimated during high-pollution episodes, especially in the BoB leg. We show that this underprediction of AOD is mostly due to deficiencies in the coarse mode, where the model showed that dust was the dominant component. The analysis of simulated dust AOD along with the OMI Aerosol Index showed that the too low dust emissions from the Thar Desert in the model are the main cause for this deficiency. Thirdly, we analysed the spatio-temporal variability of AOD comparing the ship-based observations to the large-scale satellite observations and simulations. It was found that most of the variability along the track was due to geographical patterns, with minor influence by single events. Aerosol fields were homogeneous enough to yield a good statistical agreement between satellite data at a 1° spatial, but only twice-daily temporal resolution, and the ship-based sunphotometer data at a much finer spatial, but daily-average temporal resolution. Finally, we estimated the shortwave aerosol radiative forcing. We found that the cruise represents well the regional-seasonal mean forcings. Constraining simulated forcings using the observed AOD distributions yields a regional-seasonal mean aerosol forcing of −8.6, −21.4 and +12.9 W m−2 at the top of the atmosphere (TOA), at the surface (SUR) and in the atmosphere (ATM), respectively, for the BoB region, and over the AS, of, −6.8, −12.8, and +6 W m−2 at TOA, SUR, and ATM, respectively.