Aerosol forcing masks and delays the formation of the North-Atlantic warming hole by three decades

Geophysical Research Letters American Geophysical Union 47:22 (2020) e2020GL090778

Authors:

Guy Dagan, Philip Stier, Duncan Watson-Parris

Abstract:

The North-Atlantic warming hole (NAWH) is referred to as a reduced warming, or even cooling, of the North-Atlantic during an anthropogenic-driven global warming. A NAWH is predicted by climate models during the 21st century and its pattern is already emerging in observations. Despite the known key role of the North-Atlantic surface temperatures in setting the Northern-Hemisphere climate, the mechanisms behind the NAWH are still not fully understood. Using state-of-the-art climate models, we show that anthropogenic aerosol forcing opposes the formation of the NAWH (by leading to a local warming) and delays its emergence by about 30 years. In agreement with previous studies, we also demonstrate that the relative warming of the North-Atlantic under aerosol forcing is due to changes in ocean heat fluxes, rather than air-sea fluxes. These results suggest that the predicted reduction in aerosol forcing during the 21st century may accelerate the formation of the NAWH.

A large-scale analysis of pockets of open cells and their radiative impact

Geophysical Research Letters American Geophysical Union 48:6 (2021) e2020GL092213

Authors:

duncan Watson-Parris, Sam Sutherland, Matt Christensen, Ryan Eastman, Philip Stier

Abstract:

Pockets of open cells sometimes form within closed‐cell stratocumulus cloud decks but little is known about their statistical properties or prevalence. A convolutional neural network was used to detect occurrences of pockets of open cells (POCs). Trained on a small hand‐logged dataset and applied to 13 years of satellite imagery the neural network is able to classify 8,491 POCs. This extensive database allows the first robust analysis of the spatial and temporal prevalence of these phenomena, as well as a detailed analysis of their micro‐physical properties. We find a large (30%) increase in cloud effective radius inside POCs as compared to their surroundings and similarly large (20%) decrease in cloud fraction. This also allows their global radiative effect to be determined. Using simple radiative approximations we find that the instantaneous global annual mean top‐of‐atmosphere perturbation by all POCs is only 0.01 W/m2.

Aerosol absorption in global models from AeroCom phase III

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics European Geosciences Union 21:20 (2021) 15929-15947

Authors:

Maria Sand, Bjorn H Samset, Gunnar Myhre, Jonas Gliss, Susanne E Bauer, Huisheng Bian, Mian Chin, Ramiro Checa-Garcia, Paul Ginoux, Zak Kipling, Alf Kirkevag, Harri Kokkola, Philippe Le Sager, Marianne T Lund, Hitoshi Matsui, Twan van Noije, Dirk JL Olivie, Samuel Remy, Michael Schulz, Philip Stier, Camilla W Stjern, Toshihiko Takemura, Kostas Tsigaridis, Svetlana G Tsyro, Duncan Watson-Parris

Abstract:

Aerosol-induced absorption of shortwave radiation can modify the climate through local atmospheric heating, which affects lapse rates, precipitation, and cloud formation. Presently, the total amount of aerosol absorption is poorly constrained, and the main absorbing aerosol species (black carbon (BC), organic aerosols (OA), and mineral dust) are diversely quantified in global climate models. As part of the third phase of the Aerosol Comparisons between Observations and Models (AeroCom) intercomparison initiative (AeroCom phase III), we here document the distribution and magnitude of aerosol absorption in current global aerosol models and quantify the sources of intermodel spread, highlighting the difficulties of attributing absorption to different species. In total, 15 models have provided total present-day absorption at 550 nm (using year 2010 emissions), 11 of which have provided absorption per absorbing species. The multi-model global annual mean total absorption aerosol optical depth (AAOD) is 0.0054 (0.0020 to 0.0098; 550 nm), with the range given as the minimum and maximum model values. This is 28 % higher compared to the 0.0042 (0.0021 to 0.0076) multi-model mean in AeroCom phase II (using year 2000 emissions), but the difference is within 1 standard deviation, which, in this study, is 0.0023 (0.0019 in Phase II). Of the summed component AAOD, 60 % (range 36 %–84 %) is estimated to be due to BC, 31 % (12 %–49 %) is due to dust, and 11 % (0 %–24 %) is due to OA; however, the components are not independent in terms of their absorbing efficiency. In models with internal mixtures of absorbing aerosols, a major challenge is the lack of a common and simple method to attribute absorption to the different absorbing species. Therefore, when possible, the models with internally mixed aerosols in the present study have performed simulations using the same method for estimating absorption due to BC, OA, and dust, namely by removing it and comparing runs with and without the absorbing species. We discuss the challenges of attributing absorption to different species; we compare burden, refractive indices, and density; and we contrast models with internal mixing to models with external mixing. The model mean BC mass absorption coefficient (MAC) value is 10.1 (3.1 to 17.7) m2 g−1 (550 nm), and the model mean BC AAOD is 0.0030 (0.0007 to 0.0077). The difference in lifetime (and burden) in the models explains as much of the BC AAOD spread as the difference in BC MAC values. The difference in the spectral dependency between the models is striking. Several models have an absorption Ångstrøm exponent (AAE) close to 1, which likely is too low given current knowledge of spectral aerosol optical properties. Most models do not account for brown carbon and underestimate the spectral dependency for OA.

Global evidence of aerosol-induced invigoration in marine cumulus clouds

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics European Geosciences Union 21:19 (2021) 15103-15114

Abstract:

Aerosol–cloud–precipitation interactions can lead to a myriad of responses within shallow cumulus clouds, including an invigoration response, whereby aerosol loading results in a higher rain rate, more turbulence, and deepening of the cloud layer. However few global studies have found direct evidence that invigoration occurs. The few satellitebased studies that report evidence for such effects generally focus on only the deepening response. Here, we show evidence of invigoration beyond a deepening response by investigating the effects of aerosol loading on the latent heating and vertical motion profiles of warm rain. Using latent heating and vertical motion profiles derived from CloudSat radar observations, we show precipitating cumulus clouds in unstable, polluted environments exhibit a marked increase in precipitation formation rates and cloud top entrainment rates. However, invigoration is only discernible when the stability of the boundary layer is explicitly accounted for in the analysis. Without this environmental constraint, the mean polluted and pristine cloud responses are indiscernible from each other due to offsetting cloud responses in stable and unstable environments. Invigoration, or suppression depending on the environment, may induce possible feedbacks in both stable and unstable conditions that could subdue or enhance these effects, respectively. The strength of the invigoration response is found to additionally depend on cloud organization defined here by the size of the warm rain system. These results suggest that warm cloud parameterizations must account for not only the possibility of aerosol-induced cloud invigoration, but also the dependence of this invigorated state on the environment and the organization of the rain system.

Global evidence of aerosol-induced invigoration in marine cumulus clouds

ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS 21:19 (2021) 15103-15114

Authors:

Alyson Douglas, Tristan L'Ecuyer