A modeling study on the climate impacts of black carbon aerosols
by Wang, C.
J. Geophysical Research, 109(D3): D03106, 2004
(Supersedes Report 84)
A three-dimensional interactive aerosol-climate model has been developed and used to study the climatic impact of black carbon (BC) aerosols. When compared with the model's natural variability, significant global-scale changes caused by BC aerosols occurred in surface latent and sensible heat flux, surface net long-wave radiative flux, planetary boundary layer height, convective precipitation (all negative), and low-cloud coverage (positive), all closely related to the hydrological cycle. The most significant regional change caused by BC revealed in this study is in precipitation that occurs in the tropics (shift of precipitation center in the ITCZ) and in the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (change in snow depth). Influenced by BC caused changes in cloud cover and surface albedo, the interactive model provides smaller positive all-sky forcing at the top of atmosphere (TOA) and larger negative forcing at the surface than the offline diagnostics (the direct forcings). The actual solar radiative forcings by BC derived from the interactive model also exhibit significant interannual variations that are up to 4 times as large as their means. Based on the revealed changes in cloud radiative forcing by BC, a non-Twomey-Albrecht indirect forcing by BC that alters radiative budgets by changing cloud cover via thermodynamics rather than microphysics is also defined. It has been demonstrated that with an absolute amount more than 2 times higher than that of the TOA forcing, the surface forcing by BC is a very important factor in analyzing the climatic impact of BC. The result of this study suggests that with a constant annual emission of 14 TgC, BC aerosols do not cause a significant change in global-mean surface temperature. The calculated surface temperature change is determined by a subtle balance among changes in surface energy budget as well as in the hydrological cycle, all caused by BC forcing and often compensate each other. The result of this study shows that the influences of BC aerosols on climate and environment are more significant in regional scale than in global scale. Important feedbacks between BC radiative effects and climate dynamics revealed in this study suggest the importance of using interactive aerosol-climate models to address the issues related to the climate impacts of aerosols. © 2004 American Geophysical Union
Full article available here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2003JD004084