Global-scale constraints on light-absorbing anthropogenic iron oxide aerosols

Lamb, K., H. Matsui, J. Katich, A. Perring, R. Spackman, B. Weinzierl, M. Dollner, and J. Schwarz (2021), Global-scale constraints on light-absorbing anthropogenic iron oxide aerosols, Nature, doi:10.1038/s41612-021-00171-0.

Anthropogenic iron oxide aerosols (FeOx) have been identified as a climatically significant atmospheric light absorber, and as a contributor of free iron to the oceans. Here we provide global-scale constraints on their atmospheric abundance with measurements over the remote Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from aircraft campaigns spanning 10 years. We find FeOx-like aerosols are transported far from source regions with similar efficiency as black carbon particles. Strong contrast in concentrations was observed between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere Pacific. We provide observational constraints in remote regions on the ambient ratios of FeOx relative to BC from fossil fuel burning. Comparison with a global aerosol model tuned to recent observations in East-Asian source regions confirm an upward revision of emissions based on model/observation comparison over the Pacific receptor region. We find that anthropogenic FeOx-like particles generate global-scale shortwave atmospheric heating 0.3–26% of that of black carbon in remote regions where concentrations of both aerosols are very low.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)
Upper Atmosphere Research Program (UARP)
Funding Sources: 
NOAA support