© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Retrieval of dust aerosols during night: improved assessment of long wave dust radiative forcing over Afro-Asian regions
1Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560012, India
2Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Abstract. Several investigators in the past have used the radiance depression (with respect to clear-sky infrared radiance), resulting from the presence of mineral dust aerosols in the atmosphere, as an index of dust aerosol load in the atmosphere during local noon. Here, we have used a modified approach to retrieve dust index during night since assessment of diurnal average infrared dust forcing essentially requires information on dust aerosols during night. For this purpose, we used infrared radiance (10.5–12.5 μm), acquired from the METEOSAT-5 satellite (~ 5 km resolution). We found that the "dust index" algorithm, valid for daytime, will no longer hold during the night because dust is then hotter than the theoretical dust-free reference. Hence we followed a "minimum reference" approach instead of a conventional "maximum reference" approach. A detailed analysis suggests that the maximum dust load occurs during the daytime. Over the desert regions of India and Africa, maximum change in dust load is as much as a factor of four between day and night and factor of two variations are commonly observed. By realizing the consequent impact on long wave dust forcing, sensitivity studies were carried out, which indicate that utilizing day time data for estimating the diurnally averaged long-wave dust radiative forcing results in significant errors (as much as 50 to 70%). Annually and regionally averaged long wave dust radiative forcing (which account for the diurnal variation of dust) at the top of the atmosphere over Afro-Asian region is 2.6 ± 1.8 W m−2, which is 30 to 50% lower than those reported earlier. Our studies indicate that neglecting diurnal variation of dust while assessing its radiative impact leads to an overestimation of dust radiative forcing, which in turn result in underestimation of the radiative impact of anthropogenic aerosols.