The spatiotemporal evolution and trends in aerosol optical depth (AOD) over environmentally distinct regions in Pakistan are investigated for the period 1980–2018. The AOD data for this period was obtained from the Modern-era retrospective analysis for research and applications, version 2 (MERRA-2) reanalysis atmospheric products, together with the Moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) retrievals. The climatology of AODMERRA-2
is analyzed in three different contexts: the entire study domain (Pakistan), six regions within the domain, and 12 cities chosen from the entire study domain. The time-series analysis of the MODIS and MERRA-2 AOD data shows similar patterns in individual cities. The AOD and its seasonality vary strongly across Pakistan, with the lowest (0.05 ± 0.04) and highest (0.40 ± 0.06) in the autumn and summer seasons over the desert and the coastal regions, respectively. During the study period, the annual AOD trend increased between 0.002 and 0.012 year−1
. The increase of AOD is attributed to an increase in population and emissions from natural and/or anthropogenic sources. A general increase in the annual AOD over the central to lower Indus Basin is ascribed to the large contribution of dust particles from the desert. During winter and spring, a significant decrease in the AOD was observed in the northern regions of Pakistan. The MERRA-2 and MODIS trends (2002–2018) were compared, and the results show visible differences between the AOD datasets due to theuseof different versions and collection methods. Overall, the present study provides insight into the regional differences of AOD and its trends with the pronounced seasonal behavior across Pakistan.
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