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Title: Towards an improved understanding of regional scale climate change in the Nepal Himalayas
Author: Shrestha, Rudra Kumar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 4638
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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The effects of enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations on Earth’s climate are well understood. However, the impacts of anthropogenic aerosol particles, in particular due to the many aerosol-cloud indirect feedback mechanisms are not fully or even explicitly quantified as yet. This PhD seeks to contribute to improve our knowledge and understanding of aerosol – precipitation interactions over the Nepal Himalayas region and their consequences for precipitation patterns there. The research was carried out using the cloud-resolving Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model through a series of sensitivity studies and supported by literature reviews of satellite and field observations, although the latter are sparse. To complement the modelling studies, from March to December 2011, aerosols and surface meteorology were also continuously measured at Nagarkot (Lat: 27.7°N, Lon: 85.5° E, Alt: 1900m), Nepal, located in the eastern flank of a bowl shaped Kathmandu valley. The location was chosen to provide a representative vertical profile of aerosol and the impact on topographical flows. Our results showed a unique pattern of diurnal pollution circulation within the valley with a morning and evening peak. The evening peak, which is higher than the morning peak is attributed to the light wind blowing through the valley carrying locally generated fresh evening pollution, further enhanced by re-circulations of aged pollutants through suppression of the mixing layers as suggested by a previous study at a different location. The morning peak is caused by calm wind conditions followed by the transitional growth of the nocturnal boundary layer. It is found that the thermally driven mountain – valley wind circulations are responsible for ventilation of pollutants. The WRF simulations showed that a sophisticated double moment bulk microphysics parameterization scheme performed best, which did not show any statistically significant difference compared to the observed data at 80% confidence interval using a Chi-squared goodness of best fit test. A sensitivity analysis of aerosol and temperature perturbations on the monsoon precipitation was conducted. We found that the model represented the first indirect effect reasonably well however, rainfall was not particularly sensitive to the aerosol perturbations used, due to the poorly documented role of the ice phase processes which assume a greater importance in this region due to the influence of topography and diurnal heating cycle. Further model studies focusing on chemical properties of aerosol and sensitivity of Ice Nuclei (IN) to precipitation in this region are recommended. In contrast, the effects of temperature perturbation were found to be significant, more so than the currently modelled aerosol indirect effects, suggesting that reduced frequency but intense rain events are likely over the Himalayas as the climate warms.
Supervisor: Gallagher, Martin; Connolly, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: aerosol, precipitation, the Himalayas, climate change, monsoon and cloud microphysics