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Title: Estimating the Radiative Forcing of Carbonaceous Aerosols over California based on Satellite and Ground Observations

Carbonaceous aerosols have the potential to impact climate both through directly absorbing incoming solar radiation, and by indirectly affecting the cloud layer. To quantify this impact recent modeling studies have made great efforts to simulate both the spatial and temporal distribution of carbonaceous aerosols and their associated radiative forcing. This study makes the first observationally constrained assessment of the direct radiative forcing of carbonaceous aerosols at a regional scale over California. By exploiting multiple observations (including ground sites and satellites), we constructed the distribution of aerosol optical depths and aerosol absorption optical depths over California for a ten-year period (2000-2010). The total solar absorption was then partitioned into contributions from elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC) and dust aerosols using a newly developed scheme. Aerosol absorption optical depth due to carbonaceous aerosols (EC and OC) at 440 nm is 50%-200% larger than natural dust, with EC contributing the bulk (70%-90%). Observationally constrained EC absorption agrees reasonably well with estimates from regional transport models, but the model underestimates the OC AAOD by at least 50%. We estimate that the TOA warming from carbonaceous aerosols is 0.7 W/m2 and the TOA forcing due to OC is close to zero. The atmospheric heatingmore » of carbonaceous aerosols is 2.2-2.9 W/m2, of which EC contributed about 80-90%. The atmospheric heating due to OC is estimated to be 0.1 to 0.4 W/m2, larger than model simulations. The surface brightening due to EC reduction over the last two decades is estimated to be 1.5-3.5 W/m2.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres), 118(19):11,148–11,160
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
radiative; carbonaceous; aerosols; California; satellite; ground; observations