Abstract : This thesis focused on the southern Indian Ocean area and contributed to improve our scientific knowledge on the origin of polluted air masses, on their spatial distribution, on the relative contribution of the identified source regions to the measured pollutant loading, and on the optical properties of the encountered aerosols. The potential primary sources for CO throughout the south-western Indian Ocean troposphere are southern Africa and South America. A secondary potential contribution from Southeast Asia and Indonesia-Malaysia was identified in the upper troposphere, especially in July and August. The seasonal variation of tropospheric ozone concentration in the southern Indian Ocean is highlighted, and its link to wintertime long range transport of tropospheric ozone precursors emitted in biomass burning plumes from southern America and Africa is evidenced. The analysis of sun photometer measurements gave access to a climatology of the optical properties of aerosols in Reunion Island, showing this site can be considered as a clean site, mostly influenced by marine aerosols throughout the year, and also by biomass burning aerosols during the southern hemisphere biomass burning season. A unique data set of shipborne measurements has been collected with a dual Rayleigh-Mie lidar and a handheld sun photometer aboard a research vessel crossing the southern Indian Ocean, and the time evolution of the encountered marine and biomass burning aerosols extinction properties and vertical extension are documented.