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Ship-borne observations of spectral aerosol optical depth (AOD) have been carried out over the entire Bay of Bengal (BoB) as part of the W-ICARB cruise campaign during the period 27 December 2008-30 January 2009. The results reveal a pronounced temporal and spatial variability in the optical characteristics of aerosols mainly due to anthropogenic emissions and their dispersion controlled by local meteorology. The highest aerosol amount, with mean AOD(500)> 0.4, being even above 1.0 on specific days, is found close to the coastal regions in the western and northern parts of BoB. In these regions the Angstrom exponent is also found to be high (similar to 1.2-1.25) indicating transport of strong anthropogenic emissions from continental regions, while very high AOD(500) (0.39 +/- 0.07) and alpha(380-870) values (1.27 +/- 0.09) are found over the eastern BoB. Except from the large alpha(380-870) values, an indication of strong fine-mode dominance is also observed from the AOD curvature, which is negative in the vast majority of the cases, suggesting dominance of an anthropogenic-pollution aerosol type. On the other hand, clean maritime conditions are rather rare over the region, while the aerosol types are further examined through a classification scheme based on the relationship between alpha and d alpha. It was found that even for the same alpha values the fine-mode dominance is larger for higher AODs showing the strong continental influence over the marine environment of BoB. Furthermore, there is also an evidence of aerosol-size growth under more turbid conditions indicative of coagulation and/or humidification over specific BoB regions. The results obtained using OPAC model show significant fraction of soot aerosols (similar to 6%-8 %) over the eastern and northwestern BoB, while coarse-mode sea salt particles are found to dominate in the southern parts of BoB.


This article was originally published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, volume 11 , issue 14, 2011.

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