pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 86-127

First online:

The stratospheric sulfate aerosol layer: Processes,models, observations, and simulations

  • R. C. WhittenAffiliated withSpace Science Division Ames Research Center, NASA
  • , O. B. ToonAffiliated withSpace Science Division Ames Research Center, NASA
  • , R. P. RurcoAffiliated with

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After briefly reviewing the observational data on the stratospheric sulfate aerosol layer, the chemical and physical processes that are likely to fix the properties of the layer are discussed. We present appropriate continuity equations for aerosol particles, and show how to solve the equations on a digital computer. Simulations of the unperturbed aerosol layer by various published models are discussed and the sensitivity of layer characteristics to variations in several aerosol model parameters is studied. We discuss model applications to anthropogenic pollution problems and demonstrate that moderate levels of aerospace activity (supersonic transport and space shuttle operations) will probably have only a negligible effect on global climate. Finally, we evaluate the possible climatic effect of a ten-fold increase in the atmospheric abundance of carbonyl sulfide.

Key words

Stratosphere Aerosol layer Sulfates