Regional and seasonal radiative forcing by perturbations to aerosol and ozone precursor emissions
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
Dedicated model simulations by four general circulation and chemistry-transport models are used to establish a matrix of specific radiative forcing, defined as the radiative forcing per unit change in mass emitted, as a function of the near-term climate forcer emitted, its source region, and the season of emission. Emissions of eight near-term climate forcers are reduced: sulphur dioxide, the precursor to sulphate aerosols; black carbon aerosols; organic carbon aerosols; ammonia, a precursor to
... nia, a precursor to nitrate aerosols; methane; and nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds, the precursors to ozone and to secondary organic aerosols. The focus is on two source regions, Europe and East Asia, but the shipping sector and global averages are also included. Emission reductions are applied over two time periods: May&ndash;Oct and Nov&ndash;Apr. Models generally agree on the sign and ranking of specific radiative forcing for different emitted species, but disagree quantitatively. Black carbon aerosols, methane, and carbon monoxide exert positive specific radiative forcings. Black carbon exerts the strongest specific radiative forcing, even after accounting for rapid adjustments from the semi-direct effect, and is most efficient in local summer. However, although methane and carbon monoxide are less efficient in a specific sense, the potential for decreasing the mass emitted is larger. Organic carbon aerosols, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, and emissions by the shipping sector exert negative specific radiative forcings, with local summer emission changes being again more efficient. Ammonia is notable for its weak specific radiative forcing. For aerosols, specific radiative forcing exerted by European emissions is stronger than for East Asia, because the European baseline is less polluted. Radiative forcing of European and East Asian emission reductions is mainly exerted in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, but atmospheric transport yields sizeable radiative forcings in neighbouring regions, such as the Arctic. Models disagree on the sign of the net radiative forcing exerted by reductions in the emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, because those reductions trigger complex changes in the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere, translating into radiative forcings by aerosols, methane, and ozone of different signs. The response of nitrate aerosols to nitrogen oxide reductions is particularly important in determining the sign of the corresponding radiative forcing. Model diversity comes from different modelled lifetimes, different unperturbed baselines, and different numbers of species and radiative forcing mechanisms represented. The strength of the aerosol-chemistry coupling is also diverse, translating into aerosol responses to perturbations of ozone precursors of different magnitudes.