Study of Aerosol Indirect Effects in China

15 May 2008 - 29 December 2008

Lead Scientist: Zhanqing Li

Observatory: amf, hfe

Aerosols in China have exceptionally high loading and diverse properties, and their influence has been detected across the Pacific Rim. The rapid pace of changes in the atmospheric environment over China provides a natural testbed for identifying and quantifying the climatic effects of aerosols. Preliminary analyses of multiple satellite data sets (MODIS, TMI, TRMM) indicated more complex and unique aerosol indirect effects than what is found in relatively cleaner environments. Unfortunately, China is one of the least observed regions, especially in terms of aerosol and cloud properties. To verify the satellite findings and gain a deeper understanding requires either in situ measurements or independent ground-based remote sensing data, or ideally both. To this end, the ARM Mobile Facility (AMF) was deployed in China in 2008 to enhance observation capability of a funded project to achieve the following goals:

  • Acquisition of essential cloud, aerosol, and meteorological parameters using the AMF to validate satellite-based findings
  • Use of AMF measurements together with validated satellite retrievals and in situ data to understand the mechanisms of the aerosol indirect effects in the region
  • Examination of the roles of aerosols in affecting regional climate and atmospheric circulation with a special focus on the impact of the East Asian monsoon system.

Researchers tested the following scientific hypotheses through the AMF deployment in China:

  • Aerosols play a major role in the inconsistent results from rain remote sensing.
  • Aerosol loading in China is so heavy that it significantly affects the dynamics of the monsoon system.
  • Aerosol types and meteorological conditions in China are so diverse that they have distinct climatic effects.

Testing these hypotheses required AMF, satellite and aircraft observations of the following variables:

  • Aerosol optical (optical depth, single scattering albedo, etc.), microphysical (size distribution), and chemical (composition) properties, as well as vertical profiles
  • Cloud properties (cloud fraction, cloud optical depth, cloud liquid water path, location of cloud layers, cloud phase, etc.)
  • Radiative quantities (total broadband and narrowband spectral radiances and irradiances, direct and diffuse irradiances)
  • Thermodynamic and dynamical properties (e.g., atmospheric soundings and cloud updraft velocities).

Researchers chose to study the Yangtze delta region in southeast China, the center of the satellite rainfall retrieval anomaly and also the area where the aerosol optical depth distribution in China is maximal. Continuous measurements were made for some of the key variables listed above for nearly a year prior, thanks to the logistical and scientific support provided by personnel at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Radiometers (forefront), a radar wind profiler (right), and instrument shelters (background) from the ARM Mobile Facility were prepared for their deployment in Shouxian, China.
Radiometers (forefront), a radar wind profiler (right), and instrument shelters (background) from the ARM Mobile Facility were prepared for their deployment in Shouxian, China.



Zhang J, Y Zheng, Z Li, X Xia, and H Chen. 2020. "A 17-year climatology of temperature inversions above clouds over the ARM SGP site: The roles of cloud radiative effects." Atmospheric Research, 237, 10.1016/j.atmosres.2019.104810.

Muradyan P and R Coulter. 2020. Radar Wind Profiler (RWP) and Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) Instrument Handbook. Ed. by Robert Stafford, U.S. Department of Energy. DOE/SC-ARM/TR-044.


Boers R, F Bosveld, H Baltink, W Knap, E van Meijgaard, and W Wauben. 2019. "Observing and Modelling the Surface Radiative Budget and Cloud Radiative Forcing at the Cabauw Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research (CESAR), the Netherlands, 2009–17." Journal of Climate, 32(21), 10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0828.1.

Tang S, C Tao, S Xie, and M Zhang. 2019. Description of the ARM Large-Scale Forcing Data from the Constrained Variational Analysis (VARANAL) Version 2. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-222.

Tang S, S Xie, Y Zhang, and DR Cook. 2019. The QCECOR Value-Added Product: Quality-Controlled Eddy Correlation Flux Measurements. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-TR-223.


Liu J and Z Li. 2018. "First surface-based estimation of the aerosol indirect effect over a site in southeastern China." Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 35(2), 10.1007/s00376-017-7106-2.


Wang C, Y Shen, F Luo, L Cao, J Yan, and H Jiang. 2017. "Comparison and analysis of several planetary boundary layer schemes in WRF model between clear and overcast days." Chinese Journal of Geophysics, 60(3), 10.6038/cjg20170307.


Li Z, W Lau, V Ramanathan, G Qu, Y Ding, MG Manoj, J Liu, Y Qian, J Li, T Zhou, J Fan, D Rosenfeld, Y Ming, Y Wang, J Huang, B Wang, X Xu, S Lee, MC Cribb, F Zhang, X Yang, C Zhao, T Takemura, K Wang, X Xia, Y Yin, H Zhang, J Guo, PM Zhai, N Sugimoto, SS Babu, and GP Brasseur. 2016. "Aerosol and monsoon climate interactions over Asia." Reviews of Geophysics, 54(4), 10.1002/2015rg000500.

Zhang J, J Li, X Xia, H Chen, and C Ling. 2016. "Cloud properties under different synoptic circulations: Comparison of radiosonde and ground-based active remote sensing measurements." Atmosphere, 7(12), 10.3390/atmos7120154.

Bu L, H Pan, KR Kumar, X Huang, H Gau, X Liu, and D Kim. 2016. "Lidar and Millimeter-Wave Cloud Radar (MWCR) techniques for joint observations of cirrus in Shouxian (32.56n, 116.78e), China." Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 148, 10.1016/j.jastp.2016.08.013.

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Campaign Data Sets

IOP Participant Data Source Name Final Data
Si-Chee Tsay Aerodynamic Part Sizer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Broadband Radiometers Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay CIMEL Sunphotometer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Condensation Particle Counters - G1 Aircraft Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Gas Monitors Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Micropulse Lidar Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Multifilter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer- T0 Site Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Particle Soot Absorption Photometer - G1 Aircraft Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Radiance Research Nephelometer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Radiosonde Data Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Scanning Microwave Radiometer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay TEOM Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay TSI Nephelometer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Total Sky Imager Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay UV Radiometer Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Visibility Order Data
Si-Chee Tsay Weather Order Data

HFE Data Sources

Name Full Name Browse Data
AERI Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer Browse Data
AERINF AERI Noise Filtered Browse Data
AIP Aerosol Intensive Properties Browse Data
AOS Aerosol Observing System Browse Data
CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei Particle Counter Browse Data
CEIL Ceilometer Browse Data
CSPHOT Cimel Sunphotometer Browse Data
ECMWFDIAG European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts Diagnostic Analyses Browse Data
ECOR Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement System Browse Data
GNDRAD Ground Radiometers on Stand for Upwelling Radiation Browse Data
MERGESONDE Merged Sounding Browse Data
MET Surface Meteorological Instrumentation Browse Data
MFRSR Multifilter Rotating Shadowband Radiometer Browse Data
MPL Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MPLAVG MPL: data averaged to fixed 30 second interval, e.g. for polarized data Browse Data
MPLCMASK Cloud mask from Micropulse Lidar Browse Data
MTSAT Multi-Functional Transport Satellite Browse Data
MWR Microwave Radiometer Browse Data
MWRHF Microwave Radiometer - High Frequency Browse Data
MWRP Microwave Radiometer Profiler Browse Data
MWRRET MWR Retrievals Browse Data
NCEPGFS National Centers for Environment Prediction Global Forecast System Browse Data
NFOV Narrow Field of View Zenith Radiometer Browse Data
PBLHT Planetary Boundary Layer Height Browse Data
QCECOR Quality Controlled Eddy Correlation Flux Measurement Browse Data
QCRAD Data Quality Assessment for ARM Radiation Data Browse Data
RAD Radiation Measurements at AMF Browse Data
RADFLUXANAL Radiative Flux Analysis Browse Data
RWP Radar Wind Profiler Browse Data
SKYRAD Sky Radiometers on Stand for Downwelling Radiation Browse Data
SONDE Balloon-Borne Sounding System Browse Data
SONDEADJUST Sonde Adjust Browse Data
TSI Total Sky Imager Browse Data
VISST Minnis Cloud Products Using Visst Algorithm Browse Data
WACR W-Band (95 GHz) ARM Cloud Radar Browse Data
WACRARSCL W-band Cloud Radar Active Remote Sensing of Cloud Browse Data