U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Comparing Laser-Based Measurements of Atmospheric Aerosols with Model Predictions—Impacts on Climate Prediction
Published: May 19, 2012
Posted: October 18, 2012

Aerosols primarily scatter and absorb radiation back to space, shielding Earth's surface from the sun's energy and counteracting some of the warming induced by greenhouse gases. Global models have had some success in simulating the amount of aerosols in the lower atmosphere, but predictions have differed greatly among models and have undergone little constraint due to lack of measurements. Understanding the vertical distribution is important for predicting aerosol-cloud interactions and for accurate accounting of aerosol absorption enhancement over clouds. A team of international aerosol modelers, including Department of Energy scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, simulated global vertical distributions of aerosols and evaluated the results using measurements of aerosol extinction (scattering + absorption of sunlight) by a lidar instrument on a NASA satellite. All models simulated the observed decrease of the extinction with altitude; however, most models overestimated the extinction at altitudes between 6 and 10 km, particularly over the oceans and industrial regions. By predicting too much of the aerosol above clouds, the simulated aerosol is less easily scavenged and is more effective at making Earth appear darker from space and hence warming the Earth. This has implications for estimates of aerosol effects on climate and reveals a need for focused model development and testing.

Reference: Koffi, B., M. Schulz, F.-M. Bréon, J. Griesfeller, Y. Balkanski, S. Bauer, T. Berntsen, M. Chin, W. D. Collins, F. Dentener , T. Diehl, R. Easter, S. Ghan, P. Ginoux, S. Gong, L. W. Horowitz, T. Iversen, A. Kirkevåg, D. Koch, M. Krol, G. Myhre, P. Stier, T. Takemura, and D. Winker. 2012. "Application of the CALIOP Layer Product To Evaluate the Vertical Distribution of Aerosols Estimated by Global Models: AeroCom Phase I Results," Journal of Geophysical Research 117, D10201. DOI: 10.1029/2011JD016858. (Reference link)

Contact: Renu Joseph, SC-23.1, (301) 903-9237, Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)