Reassessment of satellite-based estimate of aerosol climate forcing

Ma, X., F. Yu, and J. Quaas (2014), Reassessment of satellite-based estimate of aerosol climate forcing, J. Geophys. Res., 119, 10,394-10,409, doi:10.1002/2014JD021670.

Large uncertainties exist in estimations of aerosol direct radiative forcing and indirect radiative forcing, and the values derived from global modeling differ substantially with satellite-based calculations. Following the approach of Quaas et al. (2008; hereafter named Quaas2008), we reassess satellite-based clear- and cloudy-sky radiative forcings and their seasonal variations by employing updated satellite products from 2004 to 2011 in combination with the anthropogenic aerosol optical depth (AOD) fraction obtained from model simulations using the Goddard Earth Observing System-Chemistry-Advanced Particle Microphysics (GEOS-Chem-APM). Our derived annual mean aerosol clear-sky forcing (-0.59 W m-2) is lower, while the cloudy-sky forcing (-0.34 W m-2) is higher than the corresponding results (-0.9 W m-2 and -0.2 W m-2, respectively) reported in Quaas2008. Our study indicates that the derived forcings are sensitive to the anthropogenic AOD fraction and its spatial distribution but insensitive to the temporal resolution used to obtain the regression coefficients, i.e., monthly or seasonal based. The forcing efficiency (i.e., the magnitude per anthropogenic AOD) for the clear-sky forcing based on this study is 19.9 W m-2, which is about 5% smaller than Quaas2008’s value of 21.1 W m-2. In contrast, the efficiency for the cloudy-sky forcing of this study (11 W m-2) is more than a factor of 2 larger than Quaas2008’s value of 4.7 W m-2. Uncertainties tests indicate that anthropogenic fraction of AOD strongly affects the computed forcings while using aerosol index instead of AOD from satellite data as aerosol proxy does not appear to cause any significant differences in regression slopes and derived forcings.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)