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Title: Modelled Black Carbon Radiative Forcing and Atmospheric Lifetime in AeroCom Phase II Constrained by Aircraft Observations

Black carbon (BC) aerosols absorb solar radiation, and are generally held to exacerbate global warming through exerting a positive radiative forcing1. However, the total contribution of BC to the ongoing changes in global climate is presently under debate2-8. Both anthropogenic BC emissions and the resulting spatial and temporal distribution of BC concentration are highly uncertain2,9. In particular, long range transport and processes affecting BC atmospheric lifetime are poorly understood, leading to large estimated uncertainty in BC concentration at high altitudes and far from emission sources10. These uncertainties limit our ability to quantify both the historical, present and future anthropogenic climate impact of BC. Here we compare vertical profiles of BC concentration from four recent aircraft measurement campaigns with 13 state of the art aerosol models, and show that recent assessments may have overestimated present day BC radiative forcing. Further, an atmospheric lifetime of BC of less than 5 days is shown to be essential for reproducing observations in transport dominated remote regions. Adjusting model results to measurements in remote regions, and at high altitudes, leads to a 25% reduction in the multi-model median direct BC forcing from fossil fuel and biofuel burning over the industrial era.
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14(22):12465–12477
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
black carbon; radiative forcing; measurements; remote regions