Changes in the aerosol direct radiative forcing from 2001 to 2015: observational constraints and regional mechanisms

Fabien Paulot, David Paynter, Paul Ginoux, Vaishali Naik, Larry W. Horowitz
2018 Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> We present estimates of changes in the direct aerosol effects (DRE) and its anthropogenic component (DRF) from 2001 to 2015 using the GFDL chemistry–climate model AM3 driven by CMIP6 historical emissions. AM3 is evaluated against observed changes in the clear-sky shortwave direct aerosol effect (DRE<sub>sw</sub><sup>clr</sup>) derived from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) over polluted regions. From 2001 to 2015, observations suggest that
more » ... <sub>clr</sub><sup>sw</sup> increases (i.e., less radiation is scattered to space by aerosols) over western Europe (0.7–1<span class="thinspace"></span>W<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−2</sup><span class="thinspace"></span>decade<sup>−1</sup>) and the eastern US (0.9–1.4<span class="thinspace"></span>W<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−2</sup><span class="thinspace"></span>decade<sup>−1</sup>), decreases over India (−1 to −1.6<span class="thinspace"></span>W<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−2</sup><span class="thinspace"></span>decade<sup>−1</sup>), and does not change significantly over eastern China. AM3 captures these observed regional changes in DRE<sub>clr</sub><sup>sw</sup> well in the US and western Europe, where they are dominated by the decline of sulfate aerosols, but not in Asia, where the model overestimates the decrease of DRE<sub>clr</sub><sup>sw</sup>. Over India, the model bias can be partly attributed to a decrease of the dust optical depth, which is not captured by our model and offsets some of the increase of anthropogenic aerosols. Over China, we find that the decline of SO<sub>2</sub> emissions after 2007 is not represented in the CMIP6 emission inventory. Accounting for this decline, using the Modular Emission Inventory for China, and for the heterogeneous oxidation of SO<sub>2</sub> significantly reduces the model bias. For both India and China, our simulations indicate that nitrate and black carbon contribute more to changes in DRE<sub>clr</sub><sup>sw</sup> than in the US and Europe. Indeed, our model suggests that black carbon (+0.12<span class="thinspace"></span>W<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−2</sup>) dominates the relatively weak change in DRF from 2001 to 2015 (+0.03<span class="thinspace"></span>W<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−2</sup>). Over this period, the changes in the forcing from nitrate and sulfate are both small and of the same magnitude (−0.03<span class="thinspace"></span>W<span class="thinspace"></span>m<sup>−2</sup> each). This is in sharp contrast to the forcing from 1850 to 2001 in which forcings by sulfate and black carbon largely cancel each other out, with minor contributions from nitrate. The differences between these time periods can be well understood from changes in emissions alone for black carbon but not for nitrate and sulfate; this reflects non-linear changes in the photochemical production of nitrate and sulfate associated with changes in both the magnitude and spatial distribution of anthropogenic emissions.</p>
doi:10.5194/acp-18-13265-2018 fatcat:mjmbqqm7kngxdkblr54j2y2wqu