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Title: Radiative effects of interannually varying vs. interannually invariant aerosol emissions from fires

Open-burning fires play an important role in the earth's climate system. In addition to contributing a substantial fraction of global emissions of carbon dioxide, they are a major source of atmospheric aerosols containing organic carbon, black carbon, and sulfate. These “fire aerosols” can influence the climate via direct and indirect radiative effects. In this study, we investigate these radiative effects and the hydrological fast response using the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). Emissions of fire aerosols exert a global mean net radiative effect of −1.0 W m −2, dominated by the cloud shortwave response to organic carbon aerosol. The net radiative effect is particularly strong over boreal regions. Conventionally, many climate modelling studies have used an interannually invariant monthly climatology of emissions of fire aerosols. However, by comparing simulations using interannually varying emissions vs. interannually invariant emissions, we find that ignoring the interannual variability of the emissions can lead to systematic overestimation of the strength of the net radiative effect of the fire aerosols. Globally, the overestimation is +23 % (−0.2 W m −2). Regionally, the overestimation can be substantially larger. For example, over Australia and New Zealand the overestimation is +58 % (−1.2 W m −2), while over Boreal Asia the overestimation is +43 % (−1.9 W m −2). Themore » systematic overestimation of the net radiative effect of the fire aerosols is likely due to the non-linear influence of aerosols on clouds. However, ignoring interannual variability in the emissions does not appear to significantly impact the hydrological fast response. In order to improve understanding of the climate system, we need to take into account the interannual variability of aerosol emissions.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2]
  1. Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (Singapore).Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling
  2. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Online); Journal Volume: 16; Journal Issue: 22; Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7324
European Geosciences Union
Research Org:
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1424399