Aerosol, the tiny atmospheric particles may have significant impact on the environmental air quality, satellite imagery application, and the climate change. It represents one of the major uncertainties in the estimation of the climate change and therefore, the aerosol observation poses difficult scientific challenges to the environment and climate scientists all over the world.
The Institute of Remote Sensing Applications (IRSA) at CAS is leading an effort called the Multi-scale Comprehensive Observation and Study of Temporal-Spatial Properties of Aerosols Project (MOSTap), which is developed to qualify the spatial and temporal distribution of the aerosol of China at a national scale, as well as the detailed properties of the different types of aerosol, therefore to reduce the uncertainties in the assessment of the aerosol’s impact on climate change, and a better knowledge of our environment.
The project includes the following work packages: characterizing the aerosol optical properties from micro to macroscopic scale, studying its temporal and spatial distribution over China, and assessing its interactions with human activities and climate change. The measurements are taken through multi-scale comprehensive experiment involving ground-based, aircraft and satellite observations.
Started from September, 2010, Professor GU Xingfa’s team at IRSA, together with five partners from other institutes has carried out rounds of experiments to obtain comprehensive aerosol data for climate studies.
By far, for example, the research group has obtained the monthly variation of aerosol chemical components based on ground-based remote sensing observation over Beijing region. As regards the radiative forcing of atmospheric aerosol, the research group has carried out experiments in specific areas such as the North China, where smoke and mineral dust have significant impact, and Tibetan Plateau, where the aerosol is affected by the monsoon from Southern Asia. The research shows that the temporal and spatial distribution of Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) over Eastern Asia is closely connected with the dense population and booming economy at this area. Using coupled atmospheric chemistry and climate models, this group has mapped the aerosol radiative forcing from 1850 to 2000 globally. In addition, the aerosol effect on China’s climate, rainfall, and the cloud formation are also investigated.
The project has linked with AVHRR, MODIS and POLDER space sensors launched by NASA and EU respectively while China’s FY satellites are also widely employed in their study.
Planned to end in 2014, the ongoing research is supported by Chinese National Basic Research Program (973 Program). It will provide crucial clues to understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of aerosols, and modeling how the aerosol might affect the climate change, especially in China.