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The Influence of Fire Aerosols on Surface Climate and Gross Primary Production in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM)

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  • 1 a Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, California
  • | 2 b Earth and Environment Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California
  • | 3 c Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington
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Abstract

Fire-emitted aerosols play an important role in influencing Earth’s climate, directly by scattering and absorbing radiation and indirectly by influencing cloud microphysics. The quantification of fire–aerosol interactions, however, remains challenging and subject to uncertainties in emissions, plume parameterizations, and aerosol properties. Here we optimized fire-associated aerosol emissions in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) using the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) and AERONET aerosol optical depth (AOD) observations during 1997–2016. We distributed fire emissions vertically using smoke plume heights from Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) satellite observations. From the optimization, we estimate that global fires emit 45.5 Tg yr−1 of primary particulate organic matter and 3.9 Tg yr−1 of black carbon. We then performed two climate simulations with and without the optimized fire emissions. We find that fire aerosols significantly increase global AOD by 14% ± 7% and contribute to a reduction in net shortwave radiation at the surface (−2.3 ± 0.5 W m−2). Together, fire-induced direct and indirect aerosol effects cause annual mean global land surface air temperature to decrease by 0.17° ± 0.15°C, relative humidity to increase by 0.4% ± 0.3%, and diffuse light fraction to increase by 0.5% ± 0.3%. In response, GPP declines by 2.8 Pg C yr−1 as a result of large positive drivers (decreases in temperature and increases in humidity and diffuse light), nearly cancelling out large negative drivers (decreases in shortwave radiation and soil moisture). Our analysis highlights the importance of fire aerosols in modifying surface climate and photosynthesis across the tropics.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Li Xu, lxu16@uci.edu

Abstract

Fire-emitted aerosols play an important role in influencing Earth’s climate, directly by scattering and absorbing radiation and indirectly by influencing cloud microphysics. The quantification of fire–aerosol interactions, however, remains challenging and subject to uncertainties in emissions, plume parameterizations, and aerosol properties. Here we optimized fire-associated aerosol emissions in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) using the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) and AERONET aerosol optical depth (AOD) observations during 1997–2016. We distributed fire emissions vertically using smoke plume heights from Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) satellite observations. From the optimization, we estimate that global fires emit 45.5 Tg yr−1 of primary particulate organic matter and 3.9 Tg yr−1 of black carbon. We then performed two climate simulations with and without the optimized fire emissions. We find that fire aerosols significantly increase global AOD by 14% ± 7% and contribute to a reduction in net shortwave radiation at the surface (−2.3 ± 0.5 W m−2). Together, fire-induced direct and indirect aerosol effects cause annual mean global land surface air temperature to decrease by 0.17° ± 0.15°C, relative humidity to increase by 0.4% ± 0.3%, and diffuse light fraction to increase by 0.5% ± 0.3%. In response, GPP declines by 2.8 Pg C yr−1 as a result of large positive drivers (decreases in temperature and increases in humidity and diffuse light), nearly cancelling out large negative drivers (decreases in shortwave radiation and soil moisture). Our analysis highlights the importance of fire aerosols in modifying surface climate and photosynthesis across the tropics.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Li Xu, lxu16@uci.edu

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