Aerosol in the tropical tropopause layer

  • David Waddicor

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis details the ACTIVE campaign in the tropics of northern Australia during 2005-2006 (based in Darwin). The focus of the campaign was to find the influence of tropical convection on the aerosol and chemical content of the Tropical Tropopause Layer [TTL] and the cirrus cloud cover in the area, which is important for the global energy budget. This study details the background climatology of the Darwin region with statistical categorisation of the trace gases and particles. The TTL had regions of extremely high aerosol number concentration, much higher than that of the PBL. The 10 to 1000 nm particle concentrations were as high as 25,000 cm-3 and 100 to 1000 nm were as high as 1000 cm-3. High aerosol concentrations were usually found in cloud-free conditions; cloudy regions were typically low in aerosol number. Wind data and trajectories (BADC) were used to find the origin of the high particle concentrations. Aerosols were found to be nucleating in outflow regions of convective anvils. SO2 oxidation to H2SO4 is a widely accepted mechanism for nucleation. A binary mechanism (H2O-H2SO4), with SO2 as the precursor, was found to be inadequate in explaining the nucleation and growth rates -- tested using an aerosol sectional model. However, it was found, via back trajectory analysis, that the climatology of Darwin was influenced by local and long-range sources, including advection from Indonesia and the Tropical Warm Pool. These distant sources could have introduced condensable matter, with aerosol precursor properties (certain organic compounds). The aerosol model found a condensable precursor concentration of at least 300 pptv was necessary to replicate the observations.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGeraint Vaughan (Supervisor)


  • thunderstorm
  • nucleation
  • convection
  • TTL
  • tropics
  • Aerosols

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