1Advanced Environmental Monitoring Research Center (ADEMRC), School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), 1 Oryong dong, Buk-gu, Gwangju 500-712, Republic of Korea
2National Institute of Meteorological Research, Seoul 156-720, Republic of Korea
3School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea
4National Institute of Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba-City, Ibaraki, 305-8506, Japan
Abstract. To more accurately estimate direct radiative forcing (DRF) by aerosols, and better investigate particulate pollution over East Asia, precise calculations of the optical properties of aerosols, such as aerosol optical depth (AOD), single scattering albedo (SSA) and aerosol extinction coefficient (σext), are of primary importance. The aerosol optical properties over East Asia were investigated in this study, based on US EPA Models-3/CMAQ v4.5.1 model simulations. The CMAQ model simulations in this study were improved in several ways compared to those in a previous study (Song et al., 2008). Although the details of the improvements were described in the manuscript, the following points should be emphasized: (1) two data assimilation techniques were employed for producing more accurate AOD products and meteorological fields over East Asia; (2) updated/upgraded emission inventories were used in the CMAQ model simulations with a fine grid resolution of 30 × 30 km2; and (3) the 4-D particulate composition obtained from the CMAQ model simulations was converted into 3-D or 4-D aerosol optical products, using the Malm and Hand (2007) algorithm with significant further modifications. The results from the CMAQ model simulations (without assimilation) showed great improvements compared to those from a previous study. For example, in terms of the regression coefficients (R), R-values were increased from 0.48–0.68 (previous study) to 0.77–0.89 (this study). The monthly-averaged CMAQ-simulated single scattering albedo (SSA) also agreed well with the AERONET SSA, with the exceptions of the Honk Kong and Taipei sites, where the air qualities were strongly influenced by active biomass burning events from January to April. There were also excellent matches between the vertical profiles of the CMAQ-simulated σext and LIDAR-retrieved σext. It was also found that the contributions of (NH4)2SO4 during summer, NH4NO3 during winter, sea-salt particles during winter and dust particles during spring to the total AOD were large over East Asia. In particular, the largest contribution of NH4NO3 to the total AOD was found over East Asia during winter. Therefore, it was suggested that this contribution of NH4NO3 should not be neglected. In order to produce more accurate AOD products, the CMAQ-simulated AODs were further assimilated with the MODIS-retrieved AODs. Both the assimilated and AERONET AODs were better correlated with each other than the CMAQ-simulated and AERONET AODs. The obvious benefits from this study would be that with these improved aerosol optical properties, the particulate pollution (e.g. AOD can be served as a proxy to PM2.5 or PM10) and DRF by aerosols over East Asia can be more satisfactorily investigated in future.