1Key Lab of Atmospheric Physics and Environment, CMA Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210044, China
2Air Quality Research Division, Science & Technology Branch, Environment Canada, 4905 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario M3H 5T4, Canada
3Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences China Meteorological Administration (CMA), Beijing 100081, China
4DL Modeling & Research, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Abstract. Based on a 10-yr simulation with the global air quality modeling system GEM-AQ/EC, the northern hemispheric aerosol transport with the inter-annual and seasonal variability as well as the mean climate was investigated. The intercontinental aerosol transport is predominant in the zonal direction from west to east with the ranges of inter-annual variability between 14% and 63%, and is 0.5–2 orders of magnitude weaker in the meridional direction but with larger inter-annual variability. The aerosol transport is found to fluctuate seasonally with a factor of 5–8 between the maximum in late winter and spring and the minimum in late summer and fall. Three meteorological factors controlling the intercontinental aerosol transport and its inter-annual variations are identified from the modeling results: (1) Anomalies in the mid-latitude westerlies in the troposphere. (2) Variations of precipitation over the intercontinental transport pathways and (3) Changes of meteorological conditions within the boundary layer. Changed only by the meteorology, the aerosol column loadings in the free troposphere over the source regions of Europe, North America, South and East Asia vary inter-annually with the highest magnitudes of 30–37% in January and December and the lowest magnitudes of 16–20% in August and September, and the inter-annual aerosol variability within the boundary layer influencing the surface concentrations with the magnitudes from 6% to 20% is more region-dependent. As the strongest climatic signal, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can lead the anomalies in the intercontinental aerosols in El Niño- and La Niña-years respectively with the strong and weak transport of the mid-latitude westerlies and the low latitude easterlies in the Northern Hemisphere (NH).