Airborne dust distributions over the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas derived from the first year of CALIPSO lidar observations

Z. Liu, D. Liu, J. Huang, M. Vaughan, I. Uno, N. Sugimoto, C. Kittaka, C. Trepte, Z. Wang, C. Hostetler, D. Winker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

256 Citations (Scopus)


Using an analysis of the first full year of CALIPSO lidar measurements, this paper derives unprecedented, altitude-resolved seasonal distributions of desert dust transported over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and the surrounding areas. The CALIPSO lidar observations include numerous large dust plumes over the northern slope and eastern part of the TP, with the largest number of dust events occurring in the spring of 2007, and some layers being lofted to altitudes of 11ĝ€"12 km. Generation of the Tibetan airborne dusts appears to be largely associated with source regions to the north and on the eastern part of the plateau. Examination of the CALIPSO time history reveals an "airborne dust corridor" due to the eastward transport of dusts originating primarily in these source areas. This corridor extends from west to east and shows a seasonality largely modulated by the TP through its dynamical and thermal forcing on the atmospheric flows. On the southern side, desert dust particles originate predominately in Northwest India and Pakistan. The dust transport occurs primarily in dry seasons around the TP western and southern slopes and dust particles become mixed with local polluted aerosols. No significant amount of dust appears to be transported over the Himalayas. Extensive forward trajectory simulations are also conducted to confirm the dust transport pattern from the nearby sources observed by the CALIPSO lidar. Comparisons with the OMI and MODIS measurements show the unique capability of the CALIPSO lidar to provide unambiguous, altitude-resolved dust measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5045-5060
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 5 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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