Seasonal characteristics of spherical aerosol distributions in eastern Asia were investigated between July 2006 and December 2008 using data from ground-based and space-borne lidar observations and the Community Multi-scale Air Quality Modeling System (CMAQ) chemical transport model simulation. The seasonal variation of spherical aerosol optical thickness (AOT) observed at four ground lidar stations surrounding the East China Sea (Beijing, Guangzhou, Seoul, and Hedo/Okinawa) was generally consistent with CMAQ simulation results. Detailed analyses confirmed clear regional differences in aerosol compositions. Analyses of aerosol vertical profiles revealed that the spherical aerosol variation is greatest in Beijing, with scale height varying between 720 m and 2100 m. The analyses also revealed that the seasonal variation patterns of spherical AOT are classifiable into 'summer peak' and 'summer trough' types. Northern sites (Beijing and Seoul) are of the summer peak type; southern sites (Guangzhou and Okinawa) show the summer trough pattern. Our analyses demonstrated that the Asian summer-winter monsoon system plays a major role in regulating such seasonal variation. The CMAQ simulated variation of spherical aerosols is well correlated to the synoptic scale monsoon variation.
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