1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Erik Palménin aukio 1, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
2Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Rozvojová 135, 165 02 Prague 6, Czech Republic
3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Yliopistonranta 1F, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
4The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Darbari Seth Block, IHC Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003, India
*currently at: School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, 311 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332-0340, USA
Abstract. Particulate matter (PM) and equivalent black carbon (BCe) concentrations were measured at two locations in northern India during 2006–2010. The first measurement station was a background site in Mukteshwar, about 350 km northeast of New Delhi, in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. The second measurement site was located in Gual Pahari, about 25 km south of New Delhi. Here we focused on resolving the effects of the Indian summer monsoon on the particulate matter and equivalent black carbon concentrations at two stations. The average monsoon time concentrations were decreased by 55–70 % compared to the pre-monsoon average concentrations at both stations, decreasing as a function of the total local rainfall during the monsoon season. In Mukteshwar during the monsoon, the 24 h PM2.5 concentrations were nearly always below the Indian National Air Quality Standard of 60 μg m−3. In Gual Pahari, 13 % of days exceeded this level during the monsoon season. However, the 24 h guideline of 25 μg m−3 given by the World Health Organization was more difficult to meet. In addition to loss processes, aerosol concentrations during the early monsoon were found to be affected by primary emissions, most likely from dust events from the Thar Desert. This resulted in elevated fractions of the coarse mode, PM2.5–10 at both stations. In Mukteshwar, additional dust contribution came from east of the station, from the Himalayan region. We also determined the characteristic transition times between the pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon. The onset and withdrawal transitions occurred faster in Mukteshwar than in Gual Pahari, both being typically less than 10 days. Transition periods in Gual Pahari took between 17 and 31 days. The shorter transition times in Mukteshwar were probably related to the more intense rains due to the mountain location, and the fact that the station was most of the time in the free troposphere.