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In Earth and space science (Hoboken, N.J.)

Atmospheric aerosol over the North Atlantic Ocean impacts regional clouds and climate. In this work, we use a set of sun photometer observations of aerosol optical depth (AOD) located on the Graciosa and Cape Verde islands, along with the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model to investigate the sources of these aerosol and their transport over the North Atlantic Ocean. At both locations, the largest simulated contributor to aerosol extinction is the local source of sea-salt aerosol. In addition to this large source, we find that signatures consistent with long-range transport of anthropogenic, biomass burning, and dust emissions are apparent throughout the year at both locations. Model simulations suggest that this signal of long-range transport in AOD is more apparent at higher elevation locations; the influence of anthropogenic and biomass burning aerosol extinction is particularly pronounced at the height of Pico Mountain, near the Graciosa Island site. Using a machine learning approach, we further show that simulated observations at these three sites (near Graciosa, Pico Mountain, and Cape Verde) can be used to predict the simulated background aerosol imported into cities on the European mainland, particularly during the local winter months, highlighting the utility of background AOD monitoring for understanding downwind air quality.

Silva Sam J, Ridley David A, Heald Colette L

2020-Nov