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

BER Research Highlights


New Multimodel Estimates of Aerosol Radiative Effects
Published: February 19, 2013
Posted: June 20, 2013

Atmospheric aerosols are emitted by fossil fuel combustion and other human activities and affect climate by scattering (cooling) or absorbing (warming) incoming solar radiation. This effect depends on the particles’ chemical composition. While the net effect has been estimated to be cooling, the exact size of the effect is poorly constrained. A recent multimodel study, including contributions from U.S. Department of Energy researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, used 15 detailed global aerosol models to simulate and document changes in aerosol distribution and impact on the Earth’s energy balance over the industrial era. The direct aerosol effect (DAE) due to scattering and absorption of solar radiation by anthropogenic sulfate, black carbon (BC), organic aerosols, and other species from fossil fuel, biofuel, and biomass burning emissions was estimated by contrasting simulations using emissions for the years 1750 and 2000. Comparing these new model results to previous model versions from the team, they found very similar spreads in both total DAE and individual aerosol component radiative forcing. However, the radiative forcing of the total DAE is stronger negative, and radiative BC forcing from fossil fuel and biofuel emissions is stronger positive in the present study than in the previous one. Furthermore, models having large forcing for absorbing components also have large forcing for scattering components. The authors argue that the net aerosol forcing uncertainty is less than for individual aerosol components.

Reference: Myhre, G., B. H. Samset, M. Schulz, Y. Balkanski, S. Bauer, T. K. Berntsen, H. Bian, N. Bellouin, M. Chin, T. Diehl, R. C. Easter, J. Feichter, S. J. Ghan, D. Hauglustaine, T. Iversen, S. Kinne, A. Kirkevåg, J. F. Lamarque, G. Lin, X. Liu, M. T. Lund, G. Luo, X. Ma, T. van Noije, J. E. Penner, P. J. Rasch, A. Ruiz, Ø. Seland, R. B. Skeie, P. Stier, T. Takemura, K. Tsigaridis, P. Wang, Z. Wang, L. Xu, H. Yu, F. Yu, J. -H. Yoon, K. Zhang, H. Zhang, and C. Zhou. 2013. “Radiative Forcing of the Direct Aerosol Effect from AeroCom Phase II Simulations,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 13, 1853–77. DOI: 10.5194/acp-13-1853-2013. (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

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

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)