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

BER Research Highlights

ARM Measurements Reveal Impact of Arctic Haze on Surface Energy Budget
Published: January 18, 2015
Posted: July 24, 2015

The Arctic experiences intrusions of high aerosol levels termed “Arctic haze,” especially between winter and late spring. Strong east-west pressure gradients can cause a poleward transport of pollution from mid latitudes, primarily from Eurasia. This haze may play an important role in affecting cloud properties, and hence their radiative impacts at the surface, in winter.

Scientists used 4 years of observations from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility measurement site in Barrow, Alaska, to determine the indirect effects of Arctic haze pollution on surface cloud radiative forcing by low-level clouds in the Arctic. The study shows that the cloud radiative impact on the surface is a net warming effect between October and May and a net cooling in summer. During episodes of high surface haze aerosol concentrations and cloudy skies, both the net warming and net cooling are amplified, ranging from +12.2 Wm-2 in February to -11.8 Wm-2 in August. In liquid clouds, approximately 50% to 70% of this change is caused by changes in cloud particle size, with the remainder caused by unknown atmospheric feedbacks that increase cloud water path. While the yearly averaged warming and cooling effects nearly cancel, the timing of the forcing may be a relevant control of the amplitude and timing of sea ice melt.

Reference: Zhao, C., and T. J. Garrett. 2015. “Effects of Arctic Haze on Surface Cloud Radiative Forcing,” Geophysical Research Letters 42(2), 557–64. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL062015. (Reference link)

Contact: Sally McFarlane, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0943
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Facility: DOE ARM User Facility

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)