Global distribution of aerosol direct radiative forcing in the ultraviolet and visible arising under clear skies

Hatzianastassiou, N.; Katsoulis, B.; Vardavas, I.
February 2004
Tellus: Series B;Feb2004, Vol. 56 Issue 1, p51
Academic Journal
A deterministic atmospheric spectral radiative transfer model, that uses comprehensive climatological data, is developed to compute the global distribution of mean monthly clear-sky total direct aerosol radiative forcing in the ultraviolet (UV) and visible, between 0.2�0.85 �m, at the top of the atmosphere (TOA), within the atmosphere and at the Earth's surface for winter and summer conditions. The aerosol data were taken from the Global Aerosol Data Set (GADS), given for various fixed relative humidity values and for 11 wavelengths within the UV�visible range, both for natural and anthropogenic aerosols. We first derive global climatologies of extinction aerosol optical thickness (AOT), single-scattering albedo (?aer) and asymmetry factor ( gaer), for actual relative humidity values within the aerosol layer, based on the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) Reanalysis Project and the Tiros Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) datasets. We include the global distribution of cloud cover using the D2 data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP), to define the clear-sky fraction at the pixel level for each month. Supplementary 10-yr climatological data for surface and atmospheric parameters were taken from NCEP/NCAR, ISCCP-D2 and TOVS. Our present analysis allows the aerosol radiative properties and forcings to vary with space, time and wavelength. The computed mean annual global AOT, ?aer and gaer values are found to be 0.08, 0.96 and 0.73, respectively, at 0.5 �m. On a mean monthly 2.5� pixel resolution, aerosols are found to decrease significantly the downward and the absorbed solar radiation at the surface, by up to 28 and 23 W m-2, respectively, producing a surface cooling at all latitudes in both winter and summer. Aerosols are found to generally increase the outgoing solar radiation at TOA (planetary cooling) while they increase the solar atmospheric absorption (atmospheric warming). However, the model results indicate that significant planetary warming, by up to 5 W m-2, can occur regionally, such as over desert areas, due to strong aerosol absorption. A smaller planetary warming (by up to 2 W m-2) is also found over highly reflecting ice- or snow-covered areas, such as Antarctica and Greenland, as well as over Eastern Europe, Siberia and North America. In general, the aerosol-induced surface cooling exceeds the induced atmospheric warming, except for regions characterized by strong aerosol absorption (e.g. deserts). On a mean annual global basis, natural plus anthropogenic aerosols are found to cool the Earth by 0.6 W m-2 (they increase the planetary albedo by 0.28%), to heat the atmosphere by 0.8 W m-2, while they decrease the downward and net surface solar radiation (surface cooling) by about 1.9 and 1.4 W m-2.


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