Detection of a gas flaring signature in the AERONET optical properties of aerosols at a tropical station in West Africa

Olusegun G. Fawole, Xiaoming Cai, James G. Levine, Rachel T. Pinker, A. R. Mackenzie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
206 Downloads (Pure)


The West African region, with its peculiar climate and atmospheric dynamics, is a prominent source of aerosols. Reliable and long-term in situ measurements of aerosol properties are not readily available across the region. In this study, Version 2 Level 1.5 Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) data were used to study the absorption and size distribution properties of aerosols from dominant sources identified by trajectory analysis. The trajectory analysis was used to define four sources of aerosols over a 10year period. Sorting the AERONET aerosol retrievals by these putative sources, the hypothesis that there exists an optically distinct gas flaring signal was tested. Dominance of each source cluster varies with season: desert-dust (DD) and biomass burning (BB) aerosols are dominant in months prior to the West African Monsoon (WAM); urban (UB) and gas flaring (GF) aerosol are dominant during the WAM months. BB aerosol, with single scattering albedo (SSA) at 675nm value of 0.86±0.03 and GF aerosol with SSA (675nm) value of 0.9±0.07, is the most absorbing of the aerosol categories. The range of Absorption Angström Exponent (AAE) for DD, BB, UB and GF classes are 1.99±0.35, 1.45±0.26, 1.21±0.38 and 0.98±0.25, respectively, indicating different aerosol composition for each source. The AAE (440-870nm) and Angström Exponent (AE) (440-870nm) relationships further show the spread and overlap of the variation of these optical and microphysical properties, presumably due in part to similarity in the sources of aerosols and in part, due to mixing of air parcels from different sources en route to the measurement site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14,513 - 14,524
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number24
Early online date19 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2016


  • Aerosol microphysics
  • Angström Absorption Exponent
  • Angström Exponent
  • Gas flaring
  • Ilorin, Nigeria
  • Urban aerosol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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