Aerosol and monsoon climate interactions over Asia

Zhanqing Li, W. K.M. Lau, V. Ramanathan, G. Wu, Y. Ding, M. G. Manoj, J. Liu, Y. Qian, J. Li, T. Zhou, J. Fan, D. Rosenfeld, Y. Ming, Y. Wang, J. Huang, B. Wang, X. Xu, S. S. Lee, M. Cribb, F. ZhangX. Yang, C. Zhao, T. Takemura, K. Wang, X. Xia, Y. Yin, H. Zhang, J. Guo, P. M. Zhai, N. Sugimoto, S. S. Babu, G. P. Brasseur

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    480 Citations (Scopus)


    The increasing severity of droughts/floods and worsening air quality from increasing aerosols in Asia monsoon regions are the two gravest threats facing over 60% of the world population living in Asian monsoon regions. These dual threats have fueled a large body of research in the last decade on the roles of aerosols in impacting Asian monsoon weather and climate. This paper provides a comprehensive review of studies on Asian aerosols, monsoons, and their interactions. The Asian monsoon region is a primary source of emissions of diverse species of aerosols from both anthropogenic and natural origins. The distributions of aerosol loading are strongly influenced by distinct weather and climatic regimes, which are, in turn, modulated by aerosol effects. On a continental scale, aerosols reduce surface insolation and weaken the land-ocean thermal contrast, thus inhibiting the development of monsoons. Locally, aerosol radiative effects alter the thermodynamic stability and convective potential of the lower atmosphere leading to reduced temperatures, increased atmospheric stability, and weakened wind and atmospheric circulations. The atmospheric thermodynamic state, which determines the formation of clouds, convection, and precipitation, may also be altered by aerosols serving as cloud condensation nuclei or ice nuclei. Absorbing aerosols such as black carbon and desert dust in Asian monsoon regions may also induce dynamical feedback processes, leading to a strengthening of the early monsoon and affecting the subsequent evolution of the monsoon. Many mechanisms have been put forth regarding how aerosols modulate the amplitude, frequency, intensity, and phase of different monsoon climate variables. A wide range of theoretical, observational, and modeling findings on the Asian monsoon, aerosols, and their interactions are synthesized. A new paradigm is proposed on investigating aerosol-monsoon interactions, in which natural aerosols such as desert dust, black carbon from biomass burning, and biogenic aerosols from vegetation are considered integral components of an intrinsic aerosol-monsoon climate system, subject to external forcing of global warming, anthropogenic aerosols, and land use and change. Future research on aerosol-monsoon interactions calls for an integrated approach and international collaborations based on long-term sustained observations, process measurements, and improved models, as well as using observations to constrain model simulations and projections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)866-929
    Number of pages64
    JournalReviews of Geophysics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Geophysics


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