Date of Award

Winter 2002

Project Type


Program or Major

Earth Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Jack E Dibb


Tropospheric aerosol particles directly affect the radiative budget of the Earth, and degrade visibility, by scattering and absorbing short-wavelength solar radiation. However, the radiative effect of aerosols is highly uncertain due to the non-uniform spatial distribution of the particles over Earth, their heterogeneous chemical composition, and their variable size. This dissertation quantifies some of the physical, chemical, and optical (radiative) properties of aerosols at different locations within New Hampshire (NH) from spring 2000 to fall 2001. During spring 2000, a 1-month study conducted at a mountaintop location adjacent to the White Mountain National Forest in northern NH showed that synoptic-scale air mass transport heavily influenced aerosol properties, and hence regional visibility. During W/SW flow, aerosol parameters and haziness were generally twice as high as times of N/NE flow. Similar transport dependent results were observed in October 2000 during a regional pollution event. Pollutants built-up in concentration during 22--28 October, culminated on 28 October, and then dropped 10-fold to background levels within a 6-hour period. Synoptic weather conditions during the transition from high to low pollutant levels indicated that an intense frontal boundary traversed the region, serving as a divide between a warm, humid, and polluted air mass from the W/SW, and a cold, dry, and clean air mass advancing out of Canada.

Further work connecting air mass transport and aerosol variability in southern NH revealed that maximum aerosol optical depth (AOD) occurred in summer and was primarily associated with W/SW flow. Minimum AOD occurred in winter and was generally associated with N/NE flow. Mass scattering and absorption efficiencies of PM2.5 did not vary significantly between times of transport from different source regions and were very close to theoretical values. Maximum positive values of aerosol direct radiative forcing occurred in winter and maximum negative values in summer; differences that can be primarily attributed to seasonal changes in surface reflectance and the relatively low values of single scatter albedo observed in winter. A comparison of AOD to retrievals by the satellite-based Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer showed a good correlation (r2 = 0.66; n = 46) during a 4-month period in 2001.