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A review of aerosol optical properties and radiative effects

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Abstract

Atmospheric aerosols influence the earth’s radiative balance directly through scattering and absorbing solar radiation, and indirectly through affecting cloud properties. An understanding of aerosol optical properties is fundamental to studies of aerosol effects on climate. Although many such studies have been undertaken, large uncertainties in describing aerosol optical characteristics remain, especially regarding the absorption properties of different aerosols. Aerosol radiative effects are considered as either positive or negative perturbations to the radiation balance, and they include direct, indirect (albedo effect and cloud lifetime effect), and semi-direct effects. The total direct effect of anthropogenic aerosols is negative (cooling), although some components may contribute a positive effect (warming). Both the albedo effect and cloud lifetime effect cool the atmosphere by increasing cloud optical depth and cloud cover, respectively. Absorbing aerosols, such as carbonaceous aerosols and dust, exert a positive forcing at the top of atmosphere and a negative forcing at the surface, and they can directly warm the atmosphere. Internally mixed black carbon aerosols produce a stronger warming effect than externally mixed black carbon particles do. The semidirect effect of absorbing aerosols could amplify this warming effect. Based on observational (ground- and satellite-based) and simulation studies, this paper reviews current progress in research regarding the optical properties and radiative effects of aerosols and also discusses several important issues to be addressed in future studies.

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Correspondence to Yuzhi Liu  (刘玉芝).

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Supported by the National Basic Research and Development (973) Program of China (2012CB955301), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41475095 and 41275006), China 111 Project (B13045), and Fundamental Research Fund for Central Universities of China (lzujbky-2013-ct05 and lzujbky-2014-109).

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Liu, Y., Jia, R., Dai, T. et al. A review of aerosol optical properties and radiative effects. J Meteorol Res 28, 1003–1028 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13351-014-4045-z

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