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Variations in surface ozone at Nainital: a high-altitude site in the central Himalayas

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Rajesh Kumar
  • Manish Naja
  • S. Venkataramani
  • O. Wild
Article numberD16302
Journal publication date17/08/2010
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


Surface ozone measurements have been made for the first time at Nainital (29.37 degrees N, 79.45 degrees E, 1958 m amsl), a high-altitude site in the central Himalayas, between October 2006 and December 2008. Diurnal variations in ozone do not show the daytime photochemical build-up typical of urban or rural sites. The seasonal variation shows a distinct ozone maximum in late spring (May; 67.2 +/- 14.2 ppbv) with values sometimes exceeding 100 ppbv and a minimum in the summer/monsoon season (August; 24.9 +/- 8.4 ppbv). Springtime ozone values in the central Himalayas are significantly higher than those at another high-altitude site (Mt. Abu) in the western part of India. Seasonal variations in ozone and the processes responsible for the springtime peak are studied using meteorological parameters, insolation, spatial and temporal classifications of air mass trajectories, fire counts, and simulations with a chemical transport model. Net ozone production over the Northern Indian Subcontinent in regionally polluted air masses is estimated to be 3.2 ppbv/day in spring but no clear build-up is seen at other times of year. Annual average ozone values in regionally polluted air masses (47.1 +/- 16.7 ppbv) and on high insolation days (46.8 +/- 17.3 ppbv) are similar. Background ozone levels are estimated to be 30-35 ppbv. Regional pollution is shown to have maximum contribution (16.5 ppbv) to ozone levels during May-June and is about 7 ppbv on an annual basis, while the contribution of long-range transport is greatest during January-March (8-11 ppbv). The modeled stratospheric ozone contribution is 2-16 ppbv. Both the trajectory analysis and the model suggest that the stratospheric contribution is 4-6 ppbv greater than the contribution from regional pollution. Differences in the seasonal variation of ozone over high-altitude sites in the central Himalayas (Nainital) and western India (Mt. Abu) suggest diverse regional emission sources in India and highlight the large spatial and temporal variability in ozone over the Indian region.