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Aerosol optical depth over a remote semi-arid region of South Africa from spectral measurements of the daytime solar extinction and the nighttime stellar extinction

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons100937

Formenti,  P.
Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons100988

Helas,  G.
Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons100833

Andreae,  M. O.
Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Formenti, P., Winkler, H., Fourie, P., Piketh, S., Makgopa, B., Helas, G., et al. (2002). Aerosol optical depth over a remote semi-arid region of South Africa from spectral measurements of the daytime solar extinction and the nighttime stellar extinction. Atmospheric Research, 62(1-2), 11-32.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-9108-E
Abstract
Spectral daytime aerosol optical depths have been measured at Sutherland, South Africa (32degrees22' S, 20degrees48' E), from January 1998 to November 1999. Sutherland is located in the semi-arid Karoo desert, approximately 400-km northeast from Cape Town. The site, remote from major sources of aerosols, hosts the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), where nighttime stellar extinction is being measured. The comparison of daytime and nighttime measurements for the years 1998-1999 makes it possible to validate the astronomical dataset of aerosol optical depth (tau(a)) dating back to 1991. The 1998 and 1999 annually averaged daytime tau(a) at 500 nm are 0.04 +/- 0.04 and 0.06 +/- 0.06, respectively. Half-day averages vary between 0.03 and 0.44, with peak values in August- September. This pronounced seasonality is linked to the biomass-burning season in the Southern Hemisphere. Smoke haze layers transported to Sutherland originated primarily on the African landmass at latitudes between 10degrees and 20degreesS and passed over Namibia and Angola. On one occasion, aerosols from fires in Brazil transported across the Atlantic Ocean were likely detected. The haze layers reaching Sutherland are therefore at least 2-3 days old. The spectral dependence of the aerosol optical depth for the smoke layers supports the bimodality of the volume size distribution for biomass burning aerosols. The accumulation mode has a volume modal diameter of 0.32 gm, consistent with the hypothesis of aged haze. The stellar measurements (1991-2001) show that, due to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the atmospheric extinction depth at 550 nm in the years 1991-1993 increased by 33% with respect to the average value (0.14 +/- 0.03) for the period 1994-2001. Outside the Pinatubo event, extinction is largest in the period 1997- 1999. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V All rights reserved.