Past studies focused on ground-level air quality, whereas air quality in upper atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) remains unclear due to lack of long-term and high time-resolution profile data. This study utilized the 3-Dimensional Real-Time Atmospheric Monitoring System (3DREAMS) to provide vertical profiles of aerosol backscatter coefficients and wind for three years (2019–2021), along with DustTrak to describe and analyze the characteristics of aerosols in the upper ABL in a high-density city in Asia (Hong Kong, China). It is the first study to assess the long-term record and spatial variations of upper-level aerosol in a high-density city using a LiDAR network. Results show an opposite diurnal profile of aerosol comparing between ground-level and upper ABL, which is different with the diurnal pattern observed in ground measurements (higher air pollutant concentration level in daytime and lower in nighttime). The co-location vertical wind measurements provided the explanation of the opposite diurnal patterns. The 3-year vertical profiles also show the significant spatial variation of vertical distribution of aerosol at different locations, whereas the temporal variations can be affected by various factors such as emissions and transboundary air pollution. Our episode analysis clearly demonstrated the capability of 3DREAMS to monitor transboundary air pollution with detailed information of horizontal transport and vertical convection. 3DREAMS is therefore proved as a suitable system for transboundary air pollution monitoring. Our findings provide a critical reference for atmospheric scientists and decisionmakers to understand transboundary air pollution.
LiDAR; Air quality; Transboundary air pollution