Climate forcing by carbonaceous and sulfate aerosols
- Cite this article as:
- Penner, J., Chuang, C. & Grant, K. Climate Dynamics (1998) 14: 839. doi:10.1007/s003820050259
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An atmospheric general circulation model is coupled to an atmospheric chemistry model to calculate the radiative forcing by anthropogenic sulfate and carbonaceous aerosols. The latter aerosols result from biomass burning as well as fossil fuel burning. The black carbon associated with carbonaceous aerosols is absorbant and can decrease the amount of reflected radiation at the top-of-the-atmosphere. In contrast, sulfate aerosols are reflectant and the amount of reflected radiation depends nonlinearly on the relative humidity. We examine the importance of treating the range of optical properties associated with sulfate aerosol at high relative humidities and find that the direct forcing by anthropogenic sulfate aerosols can decrease from −0.81 W m-2 to −0.55 Wm-2 if grid box average relative humidity is not allowed to increase above 90%. The climate forcing associated with fossil fuel emissions of carbonaceous aerosols is calculated to range from +0.16 to +0.20 Wm-2, depending on how much organic carbon is associated with the black carbon from fossil fuel burning. The direct forcing of carbonaceous aerosols associated with biomass burning is calculated to range from −0.23 to −0.16 Wm-2. The pattern of forcing by carbonaceous aerosols depends on both the surface albedo and the presence of clouds. Multiple scattering associated with clouds and high surface albedos can change the forcing from negative to positive.