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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-764
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-764
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 30 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 30 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The conclusive impact of aerosols vertical structure on low-atmosphere stability and its critical role in aerosol–PBL interaction

Tianning Su1, Zhanqing Li1,2, Chengcai Li3, Jing Li3, Wenchao Han1,2, Chuanyang Shen3,4, Wangshu Tan3, and Jianping Guo5 Tianning Su et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences & ESSIC, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology and College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, 100875, Beijing, China
  • 3Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 4Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 5State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China

Abstract. Aerosol-planetary boundary layer (PBL) interaction was proposed as an important mechanism to stabilize atmosphere and exacerbate surface air pollution. Despite the tremendous progress made in understanding this process, its magnitude and significance still bear large uncertainties and vary largely with aerosol distribution and meteorological conditions. In this study, we particularly focus on the role of aerosol vertical distribution on thermodynamic stability and PBL development by jointly using the micropulse lidar, sun-photometer, and radiosonde measurements over Beijing. Despite complex aerosol vertical distributions, the cloud-free aerosol structures can be classified into three types: well-mixed, decreasing with height, and the inversed. Under these different aerosol vertical structures, the aerosol-PBL relationships and the diurnal cycles of the PBLH and PM2.5 show distinct characters. The vertical distribution of aerosol radiative forcing differs drastically with strong heating in the lower, mid, and upper PBL respectively. Such a discrepancy in heating rate affects the atmospheric buoyancy and stability differently in the three distinct aerosol structures. Absorbing aerosol have a weak effect of stabilizing the low-atmosphere under the decreasing structure than under the inverse structure. As a result, the aerosol–PBL interaction can be strengthened by the inverse aerosol structure and can be potentially neutralized by the decreasing structure. Moreover, aerosols can both enhance and suppress the PBL stability, leading to both positive and negative feedback loops. This study attempts to improve our understanding of aerosol–PBL interaction, which shows the importance of the observation constraint of aerosol vertical distribution for simulating the interaction and consequent feedbacks.

Tianning Su et al.
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Short summary
We study the role of aerosol vertical distribution on thermodynamic stability and PBL development. Under different aerosol vertical structures, the diurnal cycles of PBLH and PM2.5 show distinct characters. Large differences in heating rate affects the atmospheric buoyancy and stability differently under different aerosol structures. As a result, the aerosol–PBL interaction can be strengthened by the inverse aerosol structure and can be potentially neutralized by the decreasing structure.
We study the role of aerosol vertical distribution on thermodynamic stability and PBL...
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